The Kyoto Protocol is set to crash land as parties stick to their entrenched positions despite clear indications climate change effects could weigh down progress in developing countries, in particular Africa.
Kyoto, which is based on a sharp distinction between developed and poor countries and requires action only from industrialised nations, expires next year, but the least developed countries are pressing for renewal of the protocol for another two years because it is the only legally binding document at their disposal.
In an interview, vice chairperson of the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action, Margaret Mukahanana, confirmed the deal was in danger, saying indications were that a pact was “far-fetched” with the unshakable positions taken by major players.
She was speaking on the sidelines of the Parties (Cop17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change underway in Durban.
“These negotiations are at a slow pace, and are likely to be highly charged and political,” Mukahanana said.
“Some economies are powered by oil. How then do you balance the equation?
“There is also no guarantee that the EU could contribute to the Green Climate Fund with the Eurozone crises. Already indications are the eurozone itself could collapse.
“The world is dangerously close to passing the threshold for runaway climate change, but it’s very difficult to get a deal here.”
European Union commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard said if the EU was to take up a second Kyoto period with a few other developed economies, it might cover at most 16% of global emissions, where the first Kyoto period covered around one third of global emissions.
“How can this be labeled a success for the climate? To have a chance of achieving this, what we actually need is a global framework for action by all major economies in developed and developing economies alike. A framework for action that truly reflects the world of the 21st century in which all pledges have the same legal weight,” she queried.
Hedegaard said the EU was open to a second Kyoto period on condition the environmental integrity of Kyoto is improved and Durban agrees on a clear road map and timeline for finalizing this framework within the next few years and applying it no later than 2020.
“I hope that all countries will show the political will and leadership needed to initiate such a process in Durban.
“In Copenhagen, leaders pledged to stay below the two degrees. Now the time has come to show they mean it,” she added, in a statement.
But, the US has refused to join Kyoto – and indications were that it may never – while Japan, Russia and Canada have made clear it they have no intention of signing up for a second commitment period.
China could only sign alongside the US as they are both major culprits.
South Arabia, whose economy is built on oil, has also reportedly refused to be part of the deal unless parties could recompense it while Ecuador is seeking over $10 billion for an estimated one billion barrels of oil underneath it to avoid production.
Civil society groups believe Durban is a crucial turning point for the ever changing climate, and “delaying the negotiation of a global binding deal to 2020 will condemn people to suffering accelerating and uncomfortable effects of climate change for generations to come.”