Stalemate deepens over future of GHG reductions

June 18, 2011

One after other, developed countries decline to any binding commitments post-Kyoto

By Aditya Ghosh

Bonn, June 12: Future course of mitigation of green house gas (GHG) emissions seem in jeopardy with wealthy countries pulling out of any extension of Kyoto or Protocol or a similar legally binding commitment one by one. The latest in the list is Canada which joined Japan, Australia and Russia here in UNFCCC meeting at Bonn to declare that neither would the country meet Kyoto targets nor will they commit to any legally binding emission targets post-KP. New Zealand also has refused a low-carbon development plan, something which has come under heavy criticism from its own NGOs.

The US was never a party to Kyoto and continues its distance with any such mechanism. With five of the biggest polluters walking out of any binding commitments, future of Kyoto hangs precariously. On Saturday in AWG-KP ? the negotiating track to decide on global action on GHG emission reduction ? a hapless KP chair mandated three spin-off groups to discuss technical and political issues in informal meetings, expecting a consensus on at least some technical issues that might pave way for constructive discussions at Conference of Parties (CoP 17) in Durban later this year.

The developing countries, however, are clear on their demand and feel technical issues don’t exist in isolation. “Technical issues need to be resolved but there must be political clarity from Annexe I countries,” said the Brazilian negotiator, on behalf of G77 & China.

The European Union, while stressing that they were ‘dead serious’ for a second commitment period, admitted that the progress has been too slow to have any positive outcome at Durban. Ministers at CoP17 must have limited issues on the table to deal with, which meant that the technical issues must be resolved soon enough to allow political debates to take place, the EU negotiator said.

The spin-off groups will work through the next week to elicit consensus on key issues. However, with limited mandate, the efficacy of these groups remains questionable. This is why it was important that these groups must have mandates to clean up the text beyond discussions and meetings, said the Swiss negotiator.

India also urged that without the prospect of a second commitment period of KP, the discussions would rather be insincere. Processes post Cancun Agreements have threatened the delicate balance achieved at Cancun CoP 16 last year, and it would be futile to talk about mere technicalities if political processes remained deadlocked, said the Indian negotiator.

There is little prospect of any climate deal in Durban as these spin-off groups will now have to work through the next week to decide on mechanisms, the basket of methodological issues and amendments and numbers before talks can move forward.
 

Hard evidence
 
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