02 August, 2011

A meeting to shape the transition to a new climate deal

Major climate talks in South Africa at year-end will be unlikely to strike agreement on a new pact, but will be important in determining the shape of long-term efforts to tackle climate change, a senior U.N. climate official said on Tuesday.

The future of the Kyoto Protocol, the existing U.N. binding framework which imposes targets for greenhouse gas emissions cuts to about 40 industrialized nations until 2012, is widely seen as under threat. Japan, Canada and Russia have said they will not extend it, while the United States never signed up to it and will never do, as the White House top climate change negotiator, Todd Stern has stated in more than one occasion.

“It’s too early to call the Durban result, expectations are not high at the moment,” said Adrian Macey, chair of U.N. Kyoto Protocol (AWGKP) negotiations, referring to the Nov 28 to Dec 9 talks in South Africa. Macey has also been New Zealand climate change ambassador since 2002.

“Whatever happens, I don’t see all 191 parties under the U.N. abandoning efforts” to develop a comprehensive accord “in the longer term for climate change action,” Macey told a climate conference in Wellington, New Zealand.

There would be a gap after the first Kyoto Protocol commitment period expires at the end of 2012, Macey said, with a number of issues remaining outstanding.

“It’s become clear that what we might be looking at in Durban is a transition to a more viable long-term architecture,” Macey said.

Last week, New Zealand’s Climate Change Negotiations Minister Tim Groser told Reuters the global community was accepting the reality that there would be no deal in Durban but there has been and there will be some progress, and a global deal is still within reach.

Global negotiations have faltered because of a gulf between developed and developing countries about who should shoulder the burden of reducing emissions blamed for stoking global warming.

Kyoto does not oblige developing nations to take on binding emissions cuts and these countries now produce more than half of mankind’s greenhouse gas pollution. The problem lies on emerging, not developing countries. China is the world’s top emitter, followed by the United States and India. Brasil, Mexico, and Indonesia also have significant emissions and a large potential of future emissions. Smaller economies among developing countries present no threat of major growth of GHG emissions now or in the future.

Intractable issues in international negotiations ahead of Durban include aviation and maritime emissions and how to manage carbon markets in developing countries, Macey said.

“It’s not going to be the final answer and it will be very difficult to get anything like a treaty,” Macey said, referring to the Durban talks.

Source: Reuters

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