Deadlock over Kyoto Protocol’s extension persists at Durban

December 6th, 2011 - 11:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Durban, Dec 6 (IANS) The negotiations at the UN climate change conference in Durban Tuesday remained stuck on the extension of Kyoto Protocol — the only legally binding regime controlling greenhouse gas emissions - beyond its expiry date next year with BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) pushing hard for it and the US resisting it.

The BASIC presented a unified stand, saying a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol is a “must” but they are also open to a discussion on a legally binding agreement with pre-conditions.

Xie Zhenhua, China’s key negotiator and BASIC chair, said: “Reports of BASIC dividing is a rumour and we all are here to send a signal to the world that we are united firmly in addressing climate change.”

“We want the two tracks should be continued and a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol is a must. Developed countries should honour their commitment in climate finance, technology transfers and other issues,” he told reporters here.

Under 2007 Bali Action Plan, countries are expected to take measures to check climate change on two tracks - Kyoto Protocol and long-term action.

Echoing China’s stand, Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan said that Kyoto Protocol must continue if parties are really committed to addressing climate change. “It is very important that, in Durban, a clear and ratifiable decision on Kyoto second commitment period takes place.”

“Developing countries should not be asked to make a payment every time an existing obligation becomes due on the part of the developed countries. We have already walked the extra mile and in fact are doing more than what our partners are doing,” she said.

Natarajan also raised the issue of the European Union levying a carbon tax on civil aviation under its emission trading schemes. “These actions are disguised trade actions in the name of fighting climate change.”

The BASIC group said it expects the issues of $100 billion fast-start finance by rich countries to poor countries, technology transfer to enable energy efficient measures and the right to develop would be addressed at Durban.

The US, however, said that countries party to Kyoto Protocol are only responsible for 15 percent of the global emission and continuing it would not help in tackling the problem.

“The Cancun agreements, which have been signed by over 80 countries (and) cover 80 percent of global emissions, need to be made operational,” said Todd Stern, US special envoy for climate change.

Replying to a question on Chinese position to take conditional legally binding emission cut, Sterns said: “It’s not my impression that there has been any change at all in the Chinese position with respect to a legally-binding agreement.”

He said any legally binding agreement would have to cover all major parties in a full way, so that it binds with equal force for everybody, unconditionally and no escape hatches in the text.

China Monday proposed to take legally binding emission cuts post 2020 with five pre-conditions, including review of measures taken by the developed countries committed to do so under the Kyoto Protocol.

The European Union has been sticking to its demand that it is ready for second commitment period of Kyoto if all countries agree to a single legal agreement.

Other major economies like Canada, Russia and Japan have said they don’t want Kyoto’s extention.

Green NGOs reacted to the US position with fury. “What we see here in Durban is the US blocking, blocking, blocking,” said Tim Gore of Oxfam.

He wanted the US to “step aside”.

“But then, EU and developing countries need to step up,” said Gore, adding: “China has put up some really positive signals.”

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