More than 10,000 scientists, bureaucrats and politicians from 186 countries have gathered Mondayon the Indonesian island of Bali for the beginning of what is perhaps the world's largest-ever conference on climate change.
TheUnited Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will run for the next two weeks as delegateswork to lay the foundation for a new global treaty that will extend beyond the current Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
Monday's session openedwith delegates giving a standing ovation for Australiaas the country'sdelegate, Howard Bamsey, announced Canberra was ratifying the Kyoto accord.
In Canberra Monday, Kevin Rudd fulfilledhis Labour party's campaign promise bysigning the paperwork to ratifyKyoto afterthe former diplomatwasformally sworn in as the country's new prime minister.
The move ends more than a decade of resistance to theenvironmental pact andleaves the United States as the sole developed nation that has not recognized the accord.
In their opening addresses, conference leaders urged delegatesto move quickly to combat climate change.
"The eyes of the world are upon you. There is a huge responsibility forBali to deliver," said Yvo de Boer, the executive secretary of the conference. "The world now expects a quantum leap forward."
The first weekof the Bali conference will see scientists and bureaucrats debating the two main issues of climate mitigation, or how to get countries to reduce the carbon emissions that are raising world temperatures, and climate adaptation,aimed largely at helping the developing world prepare for higher ocean levels and extreme weather conditions.
The second week willfeaturethe political element as theworld's environment ministers try to agree on launching a new round of global treaty talks.
Canada to encourage 'constructive' agreement: Baird
Shortly before leaving Sunday, Environment Minister John Baird said Canada will headto Bali with a "solid" plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions and will push for a "constructive" agreement with other countries —including theworld's big emitters of China, India and the United States — to encourage global reductions.
Baird is leading the official Canadian delegation, which does not include opposition politicians from the Liberal party, the NDP or the Bloc Québécois, a decision that was highly criticized on Parliament Hill when it was made last month.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Baird say that any new agreement must include all the world's major emitters of greenhouse gases and must impose absolute targets for them. Under Kyoto, the major emitters that are developing countries are exempt from targets because they are still developing their economies.
Baird's approach to the climate change talks has had its critics and some environmental groupswarn that insisting developing countries sign on sooner than they are ready to could damage a future deal after Kyoto ends.
Baird has also come under attack by opposition MPs on Parliament Hill who say his government's environmental plan has done little to cut greenhouse gases and does not likely mean Canada will meet its Kyoto emissions targets in time.
The plan, laid out in April, has Canada reaching its targets by 2020 or 2025, instead of 2012, the year laid out in the international treaty to curb climate change.