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The United Nations is hosting a climate change conference on the Indonesian
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Is everyone signed up to the pact?
Why do we need a new pact on climate change?
With the Kyoto protocol due to expire in 2012, a new international climate change deal must be put in place in time to ensure that necessary action is undertaken immediately.
The UN says that this year's scientific report from the its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has "made clear beyond doubt that climate change is a reality", which poses a serious threat to the future development of the world's economies, societies and ecosystems.
According to the IPCC, if no action is taken on greenhouse gases, the earth's temperature could rise by 4.5C or more.
The effects of climate change are being felt already, the panel says. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the global average and adverse effects on human activities are documented. Impacts of warming have also been observed in other regions and sectors, in particular on ecosystems.
As glaciers retreat, water supplies are being put at risk. And for populations living in dry lands, especially those in Africa, changing weather patterns threaten to exacerbate desertification, drought and food insecurity. Other regions are expected to suffer from floods, sea level rise and extreme weather events.
"We cannot go on this way for long," the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has said. "We cannot continue with business as usual. The time has come for decisive action on a global scale."
What's on the agenda for Bali?
The main goal of the Bali conference is to get underway negotiations on a new international climate change agreement. The Bali conference is not expected to deliver a fully negotiated and agreed climate deal, but instead aims to set the necessary wheels in motion.
Parties need to agree on the key areas which the new climate agreement should cover, such as mitigation (including avoided deforestation, where industrialised nations pay rainforest-rich nations to protect their forests to offset greenhouse gas emissions), adaptation, technology and financing.
They also need to agree on when the talks and negotiations will conclude so that the new climate change deal can be ratified by national governments before the end of 2012.
Other important issues will be under negotiation in Bali, including adaptation to climate change, the launch of a fund for adaptation, reducing emissions from deforestation, issues relating to the carbon market, and arrangements for a review of the Kyoto protocol.
The first week will involve negotiations among the parties on a wide range of issues. It will start with addresses by the secretary general and the president of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
"Bali must advance a negotiating agenda to combat climate change on all fronts, including adaptation, mitigation, clean technologies, deforestation and resource mobilisation," said Ban. "Bali must be the political response to the recent scientific reports by the IPCC. All countries must do what they can to reach agreement by 2009, and to have it in force by the expiry of the current Kyoto protocol commitment period in 2012."
Why are developed nations expected to cut their carbon?
Climate change will hit the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest, according to the IPCC, but it will affect everyone. With their greater economic and technological resources, industrialised countries are considered to be equipped to do the most to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Increasingly, developing countries are also taking steps to cut back on emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change. The international community is identifying resources, tools and approaches to support these efforts. According to the IPCC, strategies for adaptation should take into account environmental, economic and social concerns of sustainable development.