Dispatch from Bali
The heart of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali is a meeting center surrounded by several luxury beach hotels. While delegates from 190 nations negotiate in the ballroom, the sprawling hotel complex is used as a fairground for a global trade show on climate. Carbon traders and other businessmen mingle with environmental advocates and delegates, while dozens of meeting rooms are used for public "side events." One recurring theme of these events is the purported injustice that the industrialized North has committed. In a typical scene, Mohammed Adow, an activist from Kenya, tells an anecdote: "A man builds a big log home. When his younger brother wants to build a similar log home for himself, the older brother tells him: 'There are not enough trees left.' ... Is that fair?" The room erupts in applause. Adow expresses a widespread sentiment that many Western NGOs share with delegates from the South. Allegedly, the industrialized nations are using climate policy as an excuse to control or slow growth in the developing world. For Adow, climate change is a problem "created in the past." Poverty is today's most pressing problem, and it's inconceivable to "ask the poor South to pay for a problem that the super-rich have created."