‘Kyoto Protocol: Lifeline or Death at the Global Climate Change Summit in Durban?’

by Trusha Reddy, ISS
“We don’t want South Africa to be the death of Kyoto Protocol,” Minister of Environment, Edwina Molewa said recently, referring to the outcomes aspired to by the incoming South African COP17 Presidency from 28 November to 9 December 2011. But what are the real chances of life for the Kyoto and what are the stakes if we lose it?
 Most countries are calling for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, as the first one ends in 2012. The Kyoto Protocol, which came into effect in 2005, is the only legally binding agreement for greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. It commits 38 developed nations from 2008-2012 to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2 % below 1990 levels. The US never ratified Kyoto arguing that it would harm its domestic economy. Emerging economies also argued that their first priority is to develop, which requires higher energy use. Countries led by the United States, Canada, Russia and Japan now wish to see the demise of Kyoto and introduce a ‘pledge and review’ system instead of Kyoto’s system of binding targets. The resulting effect of killing Kyoto would be consolidate two separate tracks of the negotiation process, which was agreed to at the COP13, Bali in 2007, one with binding targets, the other with comparable national efforts and a long-term vision.
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