Saturday, 4 December 2010

Two more countries withdraw from extension to Kyoto Protocol

UN Climate Change Chief Christiana Figueres

“It is of deep concern that we can easily retract from this multilateral agreement. The question is how we deal with these countries who are trying to create an uncertain world" - Ambassador Colin Beck, Solomon Islands Ambassador to the UN

By Makereta Komai, Climate Pasifika Media in Cancun, Mexico

04 December 2010 Cancun --- Two more developed nations, Russia and Canada have declared their interest not to continue with the Kyoto Protocol, when it expires in 2012.

They follow Japan’s announcement not to renew another commitment period for the Protocol. Japan reiterated its decision this week during the global climate change negotiations in Cancun, Mexico.

UN climate change chief, Christiana Figueres told a media briefing at the end of the weeklong negotiations, “these are decisions taken by sovereign Parties and nothing will change that.”

“Russia and Canada are known positions and there are few more developed countries with similar stated positions.

“The only way out is to find a common ground and compromised solution here at Cancun.

Figueres said there is no way Cancun will be able to deliver a second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol.

“Parties need to find a compromise that will make everybody equally comfortable or equally uncomfortable with a view to addressing the issue at a later stage, possibly in South Africa in 2011, said Figueres.

On Japan, Figueres said it has been has been very clear about its position for a long time.

“This is no surprise. However Japan has stated that it will uphold its 25 percent proposal under the Kyoto Protocol, just as developed countries need to do so.

She clarified that Japan’s insistence of a new single legal framework was an attempt to rope in the United States to become part of an agreement that will mandate Parties to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Currently, the United States is not a party to the Kyoto Protocol.

But, under the Copenhagen Accord, the United States has committed a 30 percent reduction in 2025 and 42 percent reduction by 2030, in line with the goal to reduce emissions to 83 percent by 20150. This position was submitted to the UN climate change Secretariat in Bonn in January this year.

Given the divergent positions on the future of the Kyoto Protocol, Figueres said the challenge for Cancun is to find a way to formalise these positions within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process.

“We need to go beyond the stated positions, beyond national positions and look for areas of compromise so that they can meet each other on the other side.

“These are realities and these positions will not change dramatically here, said Figueres at the end of five days of negotiations.

On the question of avoiding a Kyoto Protocol gap after 2012, Figueres suggests that Parties come to a decision on the future of the Protocol first before the issue of the gap is resolved.

Solomon Islands lead negotiator, Ambassador Colin Beck in a brief response said the Pacific and small island nations are disappointed with the decision of Japan and other countries to withdraw from Kyoto’s second commitment period.

“It is of deep concern that we can easily retract from this multilateral agreement. The question is how we deal with these countries who are trying to create an uncertain world, said Ambassador Beck.

Executive Director of Ole Siosiomaga, an environmental NGO in Samoa, Fiu Elisara says Japan’s stance is unfortunate as many rich countries had not delivered on their commitments under Kyoto.

“It is a huge concern for us because that is the only internationally legally binding agreement that we can hold them to account in terms of commitments they made in Kyoto.

“To date, many of them have not delivered on those commitments and even the promises for a second commitment period are now, as we find in Cancun, very problematic", said Elisara.

At the end of first week of negotiations, a draft text approved in Tianjin in China is still being refined by negotiators, in addition to a Conference Room Paper (CRP) by a Zimbabwean government delegate, Margaret Mukahanana-Sagarwe, who was formerly chair of the Ad Hoc Working on Long Term Co-operative Action (AWG-LCA).

“The CRP is a non paper and was prepared to gauge the status of the growing consensus and explore issues that negotiators will need to concentrate more time on, said Figueres.

Along with the LCA text, there is also an emerging text on Kyoto Protocol.

“There is no other secret text emerging from Mexico, as claimed by some. The only texts we have are the LCA, Kyoto Protocol and the non paper that will be tabled on Saturday.

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