Talks on Kyoto break down at COP15

Posted on 15 Dec 2009 by The Manufacturer

EEF's Susanne Baker comments on the break down of negotiations on emission targets at Copenhangen.

The targets were being discussed at a meeting to update the Kyoto Protocol, the so-called “numbers group”. Under the Kyoto Protocol, developed countries committed to a range of emission reduction targets. The negotiations this morning were to update the Protocol. However, Australia called for the meeting to be delayed because some developing countries are refusing to negotiate in other key talks here in Copenhagen. Later, news filtered through the Centre that the African delegation have walked over the issue.

It follows threats by South Africa on Saturday that if swifter progress on the Kyoto Protocol was not made it would refuse to work on “long-term cooperative action” – the other of the twin-tracks of work being discussed at the climate talks which is aiming to create an umbrella of (currently voluntary) commitments and actions by both the developed and developing world.

South Africa and her allies want developed countries to commit to a second-round of emissions cuts under the Protocol. It has argued that lack of progress in establishing these demonstrates a lack of political will by the developed world. Indeed, many developed countries (such as the US) have made no secret of the fact they want a new agreement to brokered to replace the Kyoto Protocol – a move we would support if it meant that competitors in developing countries were subject to the same carbon constraints (and costs) as we are subject to here in the UK.

While some developing countries such as India urged for negotiations to continue, China remained silent during the meeting. In the end, the meeting was disbanded until there was more clarity in what was going on. I think we would all appreciate that.

This represents a stand off on the outcome of these talks: whether to continue with the twin-track approach including commitments from industralised countries under a strengthened Kyoto Protocol, or whether the Kyoto Protocol should be superseded by a new agreement.

As a fellow blogger reported today, it will take all the diplomatic skill of the experienced chairs of the AWG KP (the committee operating under the Kyoto Protocol) & LCA (the committee operating under the Protocol’s parent convention) to bring about this reconciliation of these two tracks of work – either in a single text or in two linked texts

The impact of today’s break down is rippling out to other crucial meetings. A session convened by the president of the conference to discuss all the major issues that require political guidance has been delayed by three hours. Clearly the agenda is rapidly expanding.