UN climate conference throws Kyoto Protocol a lifeline
Almost 200 nations extended on Saturday a weakened UN plan for fighting global warming until 2020, averting a new setback to two decades of UN efforts that have failed to halt rising world greenhouse gas emissions.
The eight-year extension of the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012 keeps it alive as the sole legally binding plan for combating global warming. But it was sapped by the withdrawal of Russia, Japan and Canada, so its signatories now account for only 15 per cent of global greenhouse emisions.
“I thank you all for good will and hard work in moving the process forward,” conference president Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah said as he banged down his gavel repeatedly on a package of decisions at the end of marathon talks.
But Moscow’s delegate Oleg Shamanov said that Russia, along with Belarus and Ukraine, opposed the decision to extend the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012. Russia wanted less stringent limits on unused carbon emissions permits, known as hot air.
A package of decisions, known as the Doha Climate Gateway, would also postpone until 2013 a dispute over demands from developing nations for more cash to help them cope with global warming.
All sides say the Doha decisions fell far short of recommendations by scientists for tougher action to try to avert more heatwaves, sandstorms, floods, droughts and rising sea levels.
The draft deal would extend the Kyoto Protocol for eight years. It had obliged about 35 industrialized nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by an average of at least 5.2 per cent below 1990 levels during the period from 2008 to 2012.
Kyoto would have expired at the end of 2012 without an extension. The United States never ratified it and its main backers are the European Union and Australia.
The two-week UN meeting in the Qatari capital had been due to end on Friday but the talks went on into Saturday evening.
World carbon dioxide emissions are set to rise by 2.6 per cent this year, and are more than 50 per cent higher than in 1990. Recent growth has come mostly from emerging nations, led by China and India.