5 December 2012

Namibia: What Is the Future of Kyoto Protocol?

Doha — The first week of the meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol has been described as successful, with the countries managing to add a new text in the existing Kyoto Protocol.

The work is to extend the Kyoto Protocol for another period, seeing that the key provisions in the document are set to expire on the last day of December 2012. Participants are now rushing to replace the treaty that until now has been seen as a first step in the world's ambitious actions on climate change.

A second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol starting from January 2013 onward would be produced, said the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres. "Beyond that, countries agreed to work towards an agreement that is binding," Figueres said at a press conference on Monday, in Doha.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 18th Conference of Parties on climate change (COP18) is underway in Doha, Qatar. It started on November 26 and will run until December 07. All delegates are eager to know the road ahead on the Kyoto Protocol.

The message throughout the conference is for developed countries to commit to a second period of the world's legally binding climate treaty, the Kyoto Protocol. Nations are urged to show real commitment on carbon emission reductions and to close the loopholes that allow about 30 billion tonnes of carbon to escape into the atmosphere each year.

The Kyoto Protocol sets binding obligations on the industrialised countries to reduce their green house gas (GHG) emissions. The international environmental treaty aims to achieve the "stabilisation of GHG concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system."

The United States has never ratified the Kyoto Protocol, while China has now became the world's biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, although it is treated like a developing country under the Kyoto treaty, with no obligations.

European countries and a few other countries are the only ones which seem to be committed to the protocol, compared to other industrialised countries. On the other hand, Canada, Japan and Russia have indicated that they are not interested in pledging new reductions under the treaty.

Some countries have pledged to rather take action individually but not under a binding treaty. However, experts say those commitments are not enough to prevent a 2-degree Celcius increase in global temperature, the internationally agreed upon goal.

The Kyoto Protocol is critical to developing countries, as it is the only commitment by the rich nations to clean up a problem that was largely created by them. In the meantime, those affected countries, mostly the poor, developing countries have to resort to adaptation strategies to mitigate the worst effects of climate change on their livelihoods.

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