Friday, 1 March 2013

Kyoto – rides again!

We should be celebrating the (last minute) revival of the Kyoto Protocol, signed recently by nearly 200 nations in Doha. The UN Convention on Climate Change – the only international agreement that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – will now run till 2020 when the Durban Platform should take up the strain. This depends on agreements being in place in time to bind both rich and developing nations in a global effort.

It was close, and talks in Doha over-ran, and still the two main emitters, the US and China did not buy into the process. Now Canada has ducked out and the whole thing is looking more fragile. That’s not to say that the Obama administration has not done a lot of good things on car emissions and funded developing world schemes, but the world is not operating as one – yet.

The statements from the closing session declared it unlikely that, on the current path, the world would be able to keep global temperatures from rising less than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit from pre-industrial times, a central goal of the UN process.

Some walked away from the talks deeply disappointed, like the Foreign Minister of Nauru whose low-lying country may not get much passed 2020, and who was speaking for Pacific Island nations. Europe has gone further and faster but that is not enough on its own. I suspect that talks will continue behind the scenes in the margins of other debates perhaps. This is not on top of all politicians’ agendas right now – war and economics are in the forefront – but climate change awareness is growing as the issues remain.

It is likely by 2020 the rules of the game we now play by will have to change; meanwhile, we all need to keep the pressure up!

David Jackman

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