By Makereta Komai
Climate Pasifika Media 01 October 2011 Panama --- Climate change negotiators from 192 countries convene in Panama in an attempt to keep alive global efforts to fight the impacts of climate change.
The ‘resumed session’ is a follow up to the last round of negotiations convened in Bonn in June this year. Renewed talks here in Panama have been described by the international media as a ‘dress rehearsal’ for the 17th Conference of the Parties in Durban in December.
One immediate political hurdle is the future of the Kyoto Protocol which runs out in 2012. It’s the only legally binding agreement which requires greenhouse gas emissions from polluters, grouped as Annex 1 countries under the Protocol.
Barely a year to go before the commitment period expire, most developing countries supported now by the 27 members of the European Union, are calling for a second commitment period.
|Protestors calling for Kyoto Protocol to remain (UNFCCC COP 16 Cancun, 2010)|
Most negotiating groups including the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), G77 and China, Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the African Union have expressed their intention to have the second commitment period run from 2013-2017.
‘We want to ensure that there is no gap after 2012 when Kyoto expires. For small island states, time is short and our existence and viability is under serious threat, said AOSIS chair and Grenada’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Dessima Williams.
“Avoiding a gap is essential for the conclusion of an acceptable global climate change regime.”
AOSIS countries, made up of 43 small island developing states in the Pacific, Caribbean and the Indian Ocean demand a legally binding agreement and a second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol, by COP 17 in Durban.
This is more so when 2010 recorded the highest greenhouse gas emissions ever. Each time we meet, we find accelerating changes to our climate and yet we don’t seem to reach a conclusion on an agreement to fix climate change, said Ambassador Williams.
The Panama talks hopes to lay the groundwork for a broad deal that would include national commitments to curb carbon emissions blamed for rising temperatures and guidelines on distributing billions of dollars in aid to small islands and other poor countries seen as most vulnerable to climate change.
UN-backed scientists have warned that the rise in carbon emissions must stop by mid-decade or else damage from climate change will be irreversible, with the planet set for more droughts, floods and natural disasters.
Emerging economies such as China, now the world's largest emitter have welcomed the idea of a new round under Kyoto, which requires cuts only by wealthy nations. Other than the European Union, no major nation likely to be affected by a Kyoto extension has been enthusiastic. Canada, Japan and Russia are all opposed to the extension saying that any binding action must include emerging powers.
It’s understood that Australia and Norway have sought to break the deadlock with a joint proposal that calls for the Durban summit to set a target of reaching a new, binding climate treaty by 2015.