EU Agrees to Extend Kyoto Emission-Reduction Goals Beyond 2012

The European Union vowed to extend its emission-reduction goals under the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012 after negotiators at the United Nations talks backed the bloc’s plan to sketch out a path to a new climate treaty.

The EU decision, to be formally approved by national governments next year, provides a lifeline for the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s only treaty with mandatory emission targets from 2008 to 2012 for industrialized nations. UN envoys agreed at a summit ended today in Durban, South Africa, that the so-called second commitment period would span 2013 to 2017.

The pledge by the 27-nation bloc, which has its own internally binding target of cutting greenhouse gases by 20 percent in 2020 from 1990 levels, ensures that the Kyoto treaty won’t become an empty shell after Russia, Canada and Japan declared they would not adopt new targets. The U.S. has never ratified the protocol.

“We are going to the second commitment period,” Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said in Durban today.

The EU decision ensures a bridging mechanism for the period between the expiration of current goals for developed nations next year and the entry into force of a new international deal that envoys agreed to prepare for no later than 2020. It also helps to allay investors’ concerns that the UN carbon market, which shrank to $1.5 billion last year from $7.4 billion in 2007, may lose its legal basis.

The UN decision today set the deadline for countries to submit their second set of Kyoto commitments before May 1, 2012.

The extension of the Kyoto targets by developed countries was a key demand from poorer nations, including India, China and Brazil, which have voluntary goals under the protocol and argued they need more time for a shift to mandatory commitments that would impact their economic growth.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ewa Krukowska in Durban, South Africa at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at

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