No Deal on Kyoto CO2 Goals Risks Collapse of UN Summit, EU Says

A failure by climate envoys worldwide to extend emissions-reduction goals under the United Nations Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012 may lead to a “complete meltdown” of global talks, Europe’s negotiator said.

More than 190 nations will discuss climate-protection rules for when the current greenhouse-gas targets for developed nations expire in 2012 when they meet at a summit in Durban, South Africa, starting Nov. 28. The European Union is open to the so-called second commitment period under Kyoto under certain conditions, said Artur Runge-Metzger, the bloc’s envoy to the talks.

“If there’s no continuation of the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period I think it’s a deal breaker,” Runge-Metzger said in an interview in Brussels today. “Then we would see a collapse of the negotiations in Durban,” he said. “You start from scratch then probably.”

The UN talks to fix post-2012 climate architecture -- which involve extending emission-reduction goals under the Kyoto accord and creating a new globally binding treaty -- have stalled amid differences between rich and developing nations.

Countries including Japan and Russia have said they don’t want to extend the Kyoto treaty. Their absence, along with that of the U.S., China and India, would leave the Kyoto pact without targets for the five biggest national emitters of pollution from burning fossil fuels.

As part of the EU negotiating mandate for Durban, environment ministers agreed earlier this week that the bloc would consider signing up for the second commitment under Kyoto if the treaty guarantees environmental benefits and other nations determine a roadmap for a legally binding global deal.

Legal Framework

“What we need to have is a roadmap for negotiations, a work plan for the coming years on when do we want to decide about a new legal framework, what could be the elements in there,” Runge-Metzger said. “In the meantime, you’ll need to have the implementation of the Cancun agreements plus probably the second commitment period of Kyoto, which is then kind of transitional arrangement.”

The EU committed itself to cutting greenhouse gases that scientists blame for climate change by eight percent when the then 15-member bloc signed up to the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. Ten out of 12 countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007 agreed to reduce emissions by six or eight percent.

“Certainly, I don’t think that you can expect to get a commitment from all countries to negotiate on new legally binding agreement and not have the Kyoto Protocol continuing for the second commitment period,” Runge-Metzger said.

Greenhouse Gases

The bloc will continue reducing greenhouse gases even if there’s no agreement on extending the protocol, he added. The EU has a binding internal target of cutting emissions by 20 percent in 2020 compared with 1990.

“For us, Kyoto continues no matter what is being decided in Durban,” he said. “It’s a legal treaty and the legal treaty itself doesn’t have an end date. The question is, are we going to make a decision whether some countries are going to continue with the second commitment period or not. That’s what’s going to be decided in Durban.”

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