The Bali Firewall and Member States’ Future Obligations within the Climate Change Regime


Christopher Smith
Finance and Business Development
BioRegional Charcoal Company
Thornhaugh Street
Russell Square
London WC1H 0XG
United Kingdom


At the 13th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, held in Bali in 2007, the COP decided to launch a process to reach an agreed outcome at its 15th session held in Copenhagen in 2009. This decision, known as the Bali Action Plan, contains two subparagraphs that set out broadly the parameters within which future possible legal obligations pertaining to developed and developing nations regarding the mitigation of climate change are to be addressed as part of this process as per the decision. The purpose of addressing these obligations is to enable the implementation of the Convention, so the subparagraphs should have a basis in the Convention. One subparagraph deals with future possible legal obligations pertaining to developed country Parties and the other deals with those pertaining to developing country Parties. The content of each subparagraph differs and therefore a fundamental difference in the future possible legal obligations pertaining to developed and developing country Parties is pre-defined within the Bali Action Plan. This difference, as it is perceived by most developing country Parties, has become known colloquially as the Bali firewall. This article will set out the content of the pre-defined sets of parameters and investigate the basis for this content, and difference in content in relation to the other, in the provisions and principles set out in the Convention. It will then conclude on the validity of the Bali firewall in terms of the content of the Convention. Additionally it will analyse whether the ‘outcome’ of the 15th Conference of the Parties falls in line with the future legal obligations of member states within the climate regime as perceived by most developing country Parties in terms of the Bali firewall. Lastly it will analyse member states’ future legal obligations within the climate change regime in the context of the overall objective of the Convention and the changing situation of the Parties over time.


Bali Action Plan, Bali firewall, common but differentiated responsibility, mitigation commitments, Copenhagen Accord, developed and developing country future legal obligations, emissions cuts, Kyoto Protocol, nationally appropriate mitigation actions, nationally appropriate mitigation commitments, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.             LEAD Journal - ISSN 1746-5893