Africa seeks second Kyoto

2011-12-08 10:36

The 54-nation African Group says its minimum expectation from the COP-17 climate change conference in Durban is a second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol.

Briefing the media today, the negotiating bloc’s chairperson, Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu, said the group also wanted to see the Green Climate Fund up and running.

“The minimum expectation of the Africa Group is to leave here with a second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol, one which has legally-binding dimensions, not merely political ones.”

Referring to negotiations on the protocol, he said the African Group hoped it would be possible “to get to the bottom of the complicated, very sophisticated EU [European Union] process that makes it impossible for them to go into a legally-binding second commitment period”.

Listing some of the impediments raised by the European Union, he suggested “African minds” were needed to sort these out.

“I believe that African minds should really try to get to the bottom of this very complicated EU ratification process, which, it seems, is beyond the comprehension of everybody else but Europeans,” he said, to laughter from journalists.

Observers and some countries have raised doubts about the value of a second commitment period to the protocol that binds less than a third, and possibly less than a fifth, of global greenhouse gas emitters.

In a statement yesterday, Canada’s environment minister, Peter Kent, said the protocol was past history for his country.

“The Kyoto Protocol is not where the solution lies. It is an agreement that covers fewer than 30% of global emissions,” he said.

“We will not take on a second commitment period... Kyoto, for Canada, is in the past,” he said.

Mpanu-Mpanu said the African Group also wanted to see the Green Climate Fund up and running before it left the conference.

“We want to leave here with a fund... but at this stage we don’t even have a shell,” Mpanu-Mpanu said.

Responding to a question on how he thought South Africa, as host nation, was dealing with negotiations, he said the country was involved in a balancing act.

“South Africa is doing a little bit of a balancing act... in its efforts to find consensus [between parties].”

It had disengaged from an active role in the African Group – of which the country is a member – because “they want to be in a position where they can show objectivity”.

Mpanu-Mpanu raised a second round of chuckles from journalists when he referred to countries, which he did not name, that he said had a vested interest in seeing the conference not make any progress.

“We should send them to the corner of the classroom,” he said.

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