160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! BALI, Indonesia – Delegates and scientists from around the world opened the biggest ever climate change conference today, aiming to build a new international pact by 2009 to combat global warming – or risk economic and environmental disaster caused by rising temperatures. Some 10,000 conferees, activists and journalists from nearly 190 countries gathered on the resort island of Bali for two weeks of U.N.-led talks that follow a series of scientific reports this year concluding that the world has the technology to slow global warming, but must act immediately. The Bali meeting will be the first major climate change conference since former Vice President Al Gore – due in Bali next week – and a U.N. scientific council won the Nobel Peace Prize in October for their environmental work. Among the most contentious issues will be whether emission cuts should be mandatory or voluntary and how to help the world’s poorest countries adapt to a warmer climate. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREPettersson scores another winner, Canucks beat KingsYvo de Boer, general secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, said the role of the United States “would be critical” in the discussions and that delegates must come up with a roadmap that’s embraced by Washington. The United States, which along with Australia refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol, said ahead of the Bali talks that it was eager to launch negotiations but has been among industrialized nations leading a campaign against mandatory emission cuts. But now the United States finds itself isolated at the conference, given that Australian Prime Minister-elect Kevin Rudd, whose party swept to power in general elections just one week ago, immediately put signing the Kyoto pact at the top of his international agenda. President Bush, trying to fend off charges that America is not doing enough, said this week that a final Energy Department report showed American emissions of carbon dioxide, a leading greenhouse gas, declined by 1.5percent last year. “Energy security and climate change are two of the important challenges of our time. The United States takes these challenges seriously,” Bush said.