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South Korea’s Han Says World Needs Alternative to Kyoto Treaty

The world needs an alternative system to the Kyoto Protocol treaty which regulates the gases blamed for global warming, former South Korean Prime Minister Han Seung-soo said.

Instead of taking internationally-binding emissions cuts, nations should set their own carbon dioxide targets and enshrine them in domestic law, replacing Kyoto’s so-called top-down approach, Han said in an interview at the sidelines of UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa.

“The Kyoto Protocol type of emissions reduction may not be repeated,” said Han, who is now chairman of the Global Green Growth Institute in Seoul. “We have to find a new alternative to the Kyoto Protocol, which is a bottom-up approach.”

The fate of Kyoto threatens to derail the Durban talks, with developing nations demanding that industrialized countries take on new targets when current ones expire in 2012. Japan, Canada and Russia refuse to do so, the U.S. never ratified the treaty and the 27-nation European Union says it’ll only accede if all countries accept a road map to reach a new deal by 2015.

Chinese delegation chief Xie Zhenhua told reporters yesterday China may accept legally-binding targets after 2020, providing conditions were met including the agreement of a second commitment period of Kyoto. Han said that’s not likely to happen in Durban, and urged envoys to make progress on establishing a green climate fund to channel climate aid.

No Second Period

“It’s almost certain that the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is not to be done at this meeting, so if there is an achievement to be made here, I hope it will be the Green Climate Fund,” said Han, also a former special envoy on climate change for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. “When it starts it will greatly contribute to helping solve the problem of climate change.”

Countries agreed at last year’s meeting in Cancun, Mexico, to set up the fund in Durban, where the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Venezuela have all objected to a draft set-up for the pool of money, prompting the South African hosts to organize informal consultations on the matter.

Han said Xie’s statement could change the mood of the conference, while adding he doesn’t think China will accept Kyoto-style internationally-binding caps.

“What China wants to do is not to have a verification process by international inspectors who come to China and verify whether they have done it,” said Han. “No developing country will do that. India won’t do it. Brazil won’t do it. They will promise that they will reduce CO2 by 20 percent, 30 percent by a certain year and then they will do it by domestic legislation.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Morales in Durban, South Africa via amorales2@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg via landberg@bloomberg.net.

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