World faces death of Kyoto Protocol

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma this week pleaded with world leaders that climate talks his country was hosting should not be like the soccer World Cup “where only a few soccer teams qualified, with one ultimate winner”.
The Conference of the Parties 17th meeting on climate change ended without much headway being made in getting industrialized nations to cut down on ozone-depleting emissions.
President Zuma indicated that the lack of co-operation from developed countries virtually spelt the death of the Kyoto Protocol.
The 1997 Kyoto Protocol asks developed nations to cut down on industrial emissions and it expires in 2012.
The Durban conference was supposed to find a successor to the agreement, with developing countries seeking its extension after the lapsing of the first commitment period.
As the curtain came down on Durban, major polluters China, the US and India had indicated they were neither ready to cut emissions nor extend the Kyoto Protocol.
They envisage a new legally-binding deal by at least 2020.
The US proposed a 10-year timeout with no new targets to slash emissions in that period.
America also argued that all big emitters should be put on equal scale in any emission-cutting deal.
US negotiator Todd Stern even delcared that “Kyoto is not the be-all and end-all”.
China suggested it would sign a legally-binding deal after 2020 if it included a condition that other big polluters sign up and that finance is provided under the Green Climate Fund.
Last year in Mexico, industrialized countries agreed to provide US$100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries adapt to climate change.
India, the third biggest carbon emitter, said it was not ready for a new binding agreement, arguing that its economic development would stall if it was asked to take on legal targets for cutting emissions.
Media reports said the European Union was willing to agree to a second round of emissions cuts on condition that the US and major developing countries such as China and India sign onto a roadmap that forges a binding agreement on reductions by the end of the decade.
But the eurozone financial crisis could undermine the EU’s leadership as it is supposed to contribute to the Climate Fund.
Canada dealt Kyoto Protocol another body blow by indicating at the beginning of the conference that it would not support a new commitment period.
According to an AFP report, Canada planned to formally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol in December.
Canada had agreed under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce its carbon emissions to six percent below 1990 levels by 2012, but emissions have instead increased.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon moved to try and save Kyoto.
In a meeting with environment ministers, the UN chief said Kyoto was all the world had at the moment.
“In the absence of a global binding climate agreement, the Kyoto Protocol is the closest we have.
“While Kyoto alone will not solve today’s climate problems, it is a foundation to build on with important institutions.
“It provides the framework that markets sorely need… “It is important that we do not create a vacuum.”
But analysts are already looking at life after Kyoto. One writer concluded: “Like a wilted social butterfly, the UNFCCC’s dress is torn and it’s broken a heel. “But it grimly remains on the dancefloor until they switch the lights on.” The next round of talks will be in Qatar in 2012.

December 2011
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