Almost two decades ago, countries joined an international treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to cooperatively consider what they could do to limit average global temperature increases and the resulting climate change, and to cope with whatever impacts were, by then, inevitable. This was in 1992.
By 1995, countries realized that emission reductions provisions in the Convention were inadequate. They launched negotiations to strengthen the global response to climate change, and, two years later, adopted the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol legally binds developed countries to emission reduction targets. The Protocol’s first commitment period started in 2008 and ends in 2012.
Nele Marien was climate change negotiator for the Bolivian delegation from 2009 – Nov 2011. He will be writing further postings to demystify the talks throughout the conference @ World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth
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Lead up to COP17
As the Bonn Climate Talks sputtered and choked past the finish line today, the general consensus was that immediate high level political intervention on the part of Northern developed countries is mandatory to the success of international climate negotiations tasked with cutting GHG emissions to less than 2 degrees by 2020.
In her concluding remarks, UNFCCC executive secretary Christina Figueres stressed the urgency for world political leaders to aggressively address climate change in the next few months to unlock disputes over reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The Panama Conference ended today on a positive note, as the Group of 77 and China issued a statement asserting progress had been made in moving closer to the ratification of the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol at COP17. Earlier this morning, African, Least Developed Countries and countries of the ALBA alliance in Latin America announced the formation of a collaboration to ensure success at the Durban talks.
"The Group of 77 and China is encouraged by the progress made in this resumed session and will continue to be engaged and work constructively to move forward, yet the Group wants to highlight the need for balance, both within mitigation and between mitigation and other building blocks, including adaptation and financing," the Chair of the G77 and China, Jorge Argüello of Argentina said
Probably the most important challenge facing COP 17 in Durban is what to do about a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol. Arizona State University's Daniel Bodansky, one of the leading experts on international climate law and agreements, explores this topic in depth, noting that "Unless states agree to a second commitment period, requiring a further round of emissions cuts, the Protocol will no longer impose any quantitative limits on states' greenhouse gas emissions. Although, as a legal matter, the Protocol will continue in force, it will be a largely empty shell, doing little if anything to curb global warming."
Read "W[h]ither the Kyoto Protocol? Durban and Beyond". August 2011. Daniel Bodansky
On December 31, 2012, the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period will expire. Unless states agree to a second commitment period, requiring a further round of emissions cuts, the Protocol will no longer impose any quantitative limits on states' greenhouse gas emissions. Although, as a legal matter, the Protocol will continue in force, it will be a largely empty shell, doing little if anything to curb global warming.
Ever since the Kyoto Protocol's entry into force in 2005, the question of what to do after 2012, when Kyoto's first commitment runs out, has been a central focus of the U.N. climate change negotiations. Developing countries such as China and India want the Protocol to continue in its present form, imposing quantitative limits on developed country emissions but not their own. The European Union might be amenable to a new commitment period under the Protocol, but only as part of "a global and comprehensive framework engaging all major economies,"2 including the United States and China. Meanwhile, some Kyoto parties, such as Japan, Canada, and Russia, want to replace the Kyoto Protocol with a comprehensive new agreement with commitments by both developed and developing countries.
"The Promise and Problems of Pricing Carbon: Theory and Experience" October 2011. Authors: Joseph Aldy, Faculty Affiliate, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, Robert N. Stavins, Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government; Member of the Board; Director, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements.
Market-approaches to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases lie at the heart of any cost-effective set of policies put forward in an international agreement—and will be considered at COP 17 in Durban in both the Kyoto and Long-term Cooperative Action discussions. Joseph Aldy and Robert Stavins "examine the opportunities and challenges associated with the major options for carbon pricing: carbon taxes, cap‐and‐trade, emission reduction credits, clean energy standards, and fossil fuel subsidy reductions."
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