Thursday, 29 November 2012

Cook Islands needs the Kyoto Protocol

L - R Mii Matamaki, Peter Taivairanga, Myra Moeka'a-Patai of the Cook Islands

 28 November, 2012, Doha, Qatar - The Cook Islands is lobbying for a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol at the UN Climate Negotiations, the first commitment period runs out at the end of this year.

A second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol will help bring the level of greenhouse gas emissions to a peak before the year 2020 to limit global warming below 1.5 degrees which is what the Cook Islands is calling for, along with other 44 island nations under the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).

“The Cook Islands would obviously like to see a second commitment period in place because the KP is the only international agreement that has robust mechanisms and a strong compliance system to ensure that countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions,” said Myra Moeka’a-Patai, the Head of the Cook Islands delegation.

“It’s a concern for us as we don’t see anything better in place.  A lot of the Annex 1 countries have opted to bring their commitments under the United Nations Framework for the Convention on Climate Change, but this Convention doesn’t have any compliance or legally binding target agreements.”

The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement under the United Nations Framework to the Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  It legally binds industrialised countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 5% below the 1990 level between the five-year commitment period of 2008 to 2012.

The 1990 level is that of the greenhouse gas emissions recorded in the year 1990 and the five-year period 2008 to 2012 is the first commitment period.

“When the Kyoto Protocol was developed there was recognition the industrialised countries had a historical response.  As they went through the industrialised process first, they have been polluting for a longer time period so it was recognised that they would take the first steps,” said Ms. Diane McFadzien, the Climate Change Adaptation Adviser at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).  McFadzien is also on the Cook Islands delegation providing technical support and advice.

“Since that time the economies of other large countries have grown, raising their emissions to similar levels, which is one of the reasons why some countries aren’t committing to a second period, or ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.  They feel it’s not fair they have to take actions when others with similar emission levels are not taking action.”

During the UN Climate talks in Doha, the Cook Islands are taking part in the negotiations, hoping to bring about a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. 

“I think for us we really need to put a second commitment period in place, the island states are the most vulnerable to the climate change impacts despite only contributing to less than 1% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions,” said Moeka’a-Patai.

“We must remain hopeful.”

The Kyoto Protocol became a legally binding treaty on 16 February 2005, it came into force after two conditions were met;   it was ratified by a minimum of 55 countries and; it has been ratified by nations accounting for at least 55% of emissions from what the Protocol calls “Annex 1” countries – 38 industrialised countries given targets for reducing emissions, plus Belarus, Turkey and now Kazakhstan.

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