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Climate Conference extends Kyoto Protocol
12/14/2012
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Industrialized nations´ obligation to reduce greenhouse gases is extended until 2020.

Just as it had happened in previous climate conferences, the 18th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP 18, which gathered 195 nations in Doha, Qatar, from Nov 26 to Dec. 9, ended with discouraging results for the environment.

Perhaps the most important decision was to extend the Kyoto Protocol, which was to expire on Dec. 31, until 2020. The Kyoto Protocol is the only legally binding commitment that forces developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas, or GHG, emissions, which are responsible for global warming. Signed in 1997, the protocol forces 35 industrial nations to reduce their GHG emissions by an average of 5.2 percent, relative to the 1990 levels, in the period 2008-2012.

However, developed countries such as Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and Russia were against the extension of the protocol. They pointed out that the obligations to decrease GHGs must also be borne by emerging nations such as China, India, Brazil, and Mexico. A recent study from the University of East Anglia, in Great Britain, has calculated that the carbon dioxide emissions have increased this year by 2.6 percent, 58 percent more than in 1990, with China and India as the main contributors to this increase.

The conditions agreed upon for the expansion of the Kyoto Protocol include industrialized nations’ revision of their GHG reduction goals for 2014 and emerging nation’s deferment until next year of demands for financial aid to counteract the effects of climate change.

Environmental organizations, such as Greenpeace, harshly criticized the results and the attitudes of the United States and Europe.

“The United States remains outside the Kyoto Protocol, and its delegation came to Doha and immediately launched into blocking progress on nearly every front”, said Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace. “This time Europe, usually seen as a leader on climate change, comes away with dirty hands (...). Europe also refused to go beyond a 20 percent  emissions target, which would barely decrease emissions from today’s levels [18 percent]. The one faint glimmer of responsible behaviour on the part of the Europeans was that a few put climate finance pledges on the table. Europe has a long way to go if it is to ever reclaim credibility on climate.”

Naidoo said that emerging economies, such as Brazil, China, India, and South Africa “should step up and take a more progressive role in constructing a 2015 climate deal, as well as tightening emissions targets before 2020.”

“Governments would do well to take a leaf out of the book of the Dominican Republic, which despite having a fraction of the wealth of industrialized countries, committed in Doha to a 2030 emission cap of 25 percent below 1990 levels, which it will implement unconditionally, and with its own money.“ Naidoo added.

Despite the opposition from the United States, the inclusion in the final declaration of the respect to the Mother Earth and equitable rights to development was seen as a victory for the Bolivian delegation. Moreover, the Bolivian delegation achieved to impede the access to the use of market mechanisms established by the Kyoto Protocol and the use of accumulated carbon credits to developed countries that will not participate in the second agreement period of the protocol.

Bolivia also rejected the implementation of new carbon market mechanisms under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, “for countering the objective of the Convention and the protection of the integrity of Mother Earth. We rigorously observe the dangers of any action that allows the design, development, and implementation of the carbon markets in any working approach, including the political approach and positive incentives for issues relative to the reduction of emissions derived from deforestation and degradation of forests [REDD] in developing countries, and the function of conservation, sustainable management of the forests and the increase of carbon forest reserves in developing countries.”

Aside from the creation of new market-based mechanisms, the final declaration approved the development of alternative mechanisms, established outside of the UNFCCC, as well as nationally administered programs or bilateral compensation programs that take into account the aid they bring to nations that comply with their mitigation targets.
— Latinamerica Press.


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