C.P.R. may be needed to revive climate talks and the Kyoto Protocol following two weeks of negotiations in Bangkok. The U.N. climate talks in the Thai capital have resulted in very little save an intensified fear and distrust between rich and poor countries.
Fear rose as several developing countries, including China, Brazil and India, accused the United States and the European Union of trying to kill the Kyoto Protocol. Such accusations come following a public showdown this week between the US and China in which the U.S. urged other rich countries to create a brand new international agreement that would force all countries to reduce GHG emissions, unlike the current requirements of the Kyoto Protocol which does not enforce reductions by developing countries.
The executive director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Yvo de Boer admitted that problems have become serious. “The spirit remains constructive and we have seen advances in Bangkok, but there is a strong fear that there is an attempt to kill the Kyoto Protocol. That is causing great dissatisfaction.”
Chief U.S. negotiator Jonathan Pershing argued his case behind the U.S. decision: "We are not going to be in the Kyoto Protocol. We are not going to be part of an agreement that we cannot meet. We say a new agreement has to [be signed] by all countries. Things have changed since Kyoto. Where countries were in 1990 and today is very different. We cannot be stuck with an agreement 20 years old. We want action from all countries."
The E.U. appeared to differ in its reasoning yet stood behind the U.S. decision. Anders Turessonthe, Chair of the EU working group in the negotiations explains: “We are not killing Kyoto…We want to preserve the contents [of the protocol]. The only way to do that is to find a new home for it in a new single legal instrument.”
"This is trying to build something bigger and better than Kyoto. The fear is that there would be a race to the bottom. It is the opposite," Turesson said.
Sudanese chair Di-Aping Lumumba disagrees, "It's irresponsible to even contemplate the idea of discarding the Kyoto Protocol. It's the lifeblood of any future agreement. It is the only legally binding agreement that gives the certainty of moving rapidly to addressing the climate concerns of billions of people."
If Kyoto is scrapped altogether, it could take years before a replacement framework is agreed upon. Negotiations leading up to Copenhagen have been pulling from elements of Kyoto already in place yet has still resulted in a less-than-solid framework. Creating something from scratch will take considerable time and energy and emission targets will likely fall to national policies in the interim.
Not only is there a fear of scrapping Kyoto, there is a fear that the stalemate between developing and developed countries regarding responsibilities and reduction targets may lead to a failure of the climate talks altogether. Climate talks in Spain next month will be the last chance for negotiations ahead of Copenhagen in December. With only five days of negotiations remaining, a deal will likely be weak at best, if at all (see my prior blog on this topic here
In my next post, I will go into further depth behind the U.S. proposal as well as look at the contrast in opinions between the U.S. and the European Union regarding how a new framework might take shape.
Paige Andrews is a regular contributor to Change2 and is currently the Director of Research at Climatico which provides independent analysis of international climate change policy. Paige will be attending and reporting from COP-15 in Copenhagen this December.