By Makereta Komai for Climate Pasifika in Panama
01 October 2011 Panama --- Civil society groups under the Climate Action Network (CAN) have given climate change State Parties an ultimatum to resolve the second commitment period for Kyoto Protocol by December this year when the global climate change negotiation moves to Durban, South Africa.
“Otherwise, we will see the Protocol buried in Durban,” warns Worldwide Fund for Nature expert, Tasneem Essop.
Essop said the key outcome for Durban is the extension of the second commitment period for Kyoto.
This is difficult when key emitters – Japan, Russia and Canada have indicated their unwillingness to go for another commitment period.
“Durban will either be a point of progress or regression, said Essop.
“It’s critical in the interest of countries vulnerable to climate change that the Kyoto Protocol is saved.
The Protocol was adopted at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) of the Parties in Kyoto in 1997. Under the Protocol, 37 industrialised countries and the European Community have committed to reducing their emissions by an average of 5 percent against 1990 levels over the five year period, 2008-2012.
The Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities.’
Essop said while the European Union’s announcement is a welcome, there is still a need to ‘convince the United States to be part of a legally binding agreement.’
The European Union is willing to sign up to a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol only if commitments are forthcoming from other major emitters.
One of its conditions, however, is that other major economies will also have to commit.
“But it only makes sense to keep the architecture alive if some of the other big emitters tell us when they intend to follow. What is the point of keeping something alive if forever it is only limited to 12 or 14 per cent of global emissions? That makes no sense, EU climate change commissioner, Connie Hedegaard told Pacific Leaders in Auckland last month.
The Europeans would press the Americans as hard as they can, she promised.
“But the blind can see that in the US right now it is incredibly difficult, with their political atmosphere, and it is not very like they are moving on this issue,” she said.
Emissions per capita in the European Union have fallen to around 9 tonnes, while China's rapid growth and reliance on coal-fired generation has pushed its up to around 6 tonnes.
“The time must end when the emerging economies account for more and more emissions, have more and more of global growth but can continue to hide behind the label of 'developing country, said Hedegaard.
|Ambassador Williams addresses the plenary at UNFCCC COP 16, Cancun, 2011|
Ambassador Dessima Williams of Grenada said ‘it’s high time for leaders to step forward and guarantee the continuity of the Kyoto Protocol.
“Countries that are serious about addressing climate change should be using this meeting to raise, not lower expectations for Durban.
‘Some Parties are acting like we have all the time in the world to act, when in fact, any additional delay endangers the survival of entire nations, said Ambassador Williams.
Pacific negotiators here in Panama are grouped with AOSIS, the Group 77 and China and some are also members of the Least Developed Countries.
The weeklong Panama talks will feature the convening of the two Ad Hoc Working Groups on Long Term co-operative Action (AWG – LCA) and Kyoto Protocol (KP).