Positions far apart on Kyoto

2011-12-07 14:11

World talks on climate change struggled on Wednesday to overcome a rift on the future of the Kyoto Protocol with less than three days left to secure a deal.

Canada bluntly declared that, for it, Kyoto was now history.

It confirmed it would not renew pledges after the landmark pact’s first roster of carbon curbs expires at the end next year.

“We have long said we will not take on a second commitment under the Kyoto Protocol. We will not obstruct or discourage those that do, but Kyoto for Canada is in the past,” Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent said.

Kent’s slapdown of a treaty viewed as iconic by poorer countries hit the nerve point of the talks, which have until late Friday to avoid the second bust-up in two years.

The conference is taking place under the 194-nation UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which has struggled for nearly two decades to roll back what scientists say is a dire threat for mankind.

Several key nations beside Canada, including Japan and Russia, have said they will not renew their Kyoto vows, which are legally binding.

They say a second commitment period is senseless so long as emerging giants and the United States, which has refused to ratify Kyoto, are not bound by the treaty’s constraints.

“For Canada, the Kyoto Protocol is not where the solution lies,” Kent said.

“It is an agreement that covers fewer than 30% of global emissions, by some estimates 15% or less. It’s an approach that does not lead to a more comprehensive engagement of key parties who need to be actively a part of a global agreement.”

So far, however, only the European Union, which accounts for barely 11% of global CO2 emissions, has shown any enthusiasm for renewing its Kyoto vows.

And even then there is a condition: all the world’s major emitters – including the United States and China – must agree in principle to conclude a binding climate pact by 2015 and implement it by 2020.

But none of the big polluters has supported Europe’s “roadmap” idea.

The United States, for its part, is calling for countries to implement a looser, voluntary approach that was born in the stormy final hours of the 2009 Copenhagen Summit.

For developing countries, Kyoto is a touchstone of cooperation between rich and poor, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon yesterday pleaded with the talks to keep the treaty alive.

“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,” said Ban.

Brazil, South Africa, India and China have described a second commitment period as “a must”, a position loudly supported today by the poorest countries and vulnerable small-island states.

South Africa, as host, gathered a group of countries into an informal huddle known as an indaba, out of which four options emerged for tackling carbon emissions in the medium and longer-term.

Despite the row over Kyoto, other issues have made progress or have a good chance of doing so, said delegates.

They include the design of a Green Climate Fund that by 2020 would channel up to $100 billion a year to help poor countries tackle worsening flood, drought, rising seas and storms.

There is also optimism that the conference would give the green light to a levy on carbon emissions from shipping, which until now has been excluded from international curbs.

Part of the tax would be channelled into the climate fund.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.