As indications are clear that the developed countries are set not to give a second lifeline to the Kyoto Protocol, the only legally binding emission control mechanism, a deep sense of resentment prevails among the poor countries and a last minute effort is afoot to get at least a much compromised and weak agreement.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and South African President Jacob Zuma are trying hard to get a decision that will keep the Kyoto Protocol on virtual life support until all countries find a way of sorting out a new legally binding mechanism in which all countries will be participants.
Negotiators think that the lowest possible outcome of the Durban climate conference could be that the EU will ‘pledge’ to cut their emission but will not enter the second commitment through an agreement. Meanwhile, other countries which are not in the Kyoto protocol will discuss and find a way to enter it at a later date.
A harder proposition is that the countries which signed the protocol to cut emission will not ratify the second commitment but will agree to enter it provided the other big polluters commit themselves to cutting their emissions too.
But this looks difficult to achieve because the US is in a mood to talk out the conference without any commitment.
“As the situation evolves now, it seems that Kyoto will be left on life support,” said Dr Saleemul Haque, senior research fellow of the International Institute for Environment and Development.
There is also talk about reviewing the achievements of the Kyoto Protocol in 2015. The BASIC group comprising Brazil, South Africa, India and China — countries which are under tremendous pressure to legally bind their emissions, have taken a position that it should be reviewed as to how far the countries which had agreed in Kyoto to cut emissions had kept their commitment. BASIC has demanded this as a pressure tactic as evidence is clear that the Kyoto countries did not cut their emission as promised.
In such a situation, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has noted that if the current rate of carbon emission continues, global temperature will rise by up to 3 degree Celsius from the pre-industrial period by the end of this century. But the last climate conference in Cancun had targeted keeping it at 2 degrees although the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) had demanded a cap of 1.5 degree Celsius.
“It was agreed at the Kyoto conference that greenhouse gas emission would be reduced by 5 percent from the 1990 level. Instead, it has risen by 17 percent, making the situation even more precarious and reaching almost a tipping point,” said Dr Atiq Rahman, executive director of Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS).
Meanwhile, the LDCs have called on the developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emission by at least 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and at least 95 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
-With The Daily Star input