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EU Agrees to Extend Kyoto Carbon-Reduction Goals Beyond 2012

Dec. 11 (Bloomberg) -- 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, provides a lifeline for the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s only treaty with mandatory emission targets from 2008 to 2012 for industrialized nations.

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,” EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard told reporters today after the conclusion of a two-week summit in Durban, South Africa.

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.

“Today we proved that the Kyoto Protocol is alive and its framework remains relevant,” said Polish Environment Minister Marcin Korolec, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency.

UN envoys agreed that the end-date for the so-called second commitment period will be decided next year, he said. During the talks negotiators considered two options -- 2017 and 2020.

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 that 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 ekrukowska@bloomberg.net

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

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