China-led bloc to consider Kyoto climate pact future

Reuters | Wed Apr 21, 2010 | 12:19pm IST

A bloc of the world’s fastest growing carbon emitters, seen as key to a global deal on climate change, appears for the first time willing to discuss the future of the Kyoto Protocol to get the United States on board. Kyoto binds about 40 rich nations to cut emissions by 2008-12 and developing countries want a tougher second commitment period. That demand is opposed by many developed nations that want to jettison Kyoto to include emerging markets like India and China. Next week’s meeting of the environment ministers of Brazil, South Africa, India and China – the so-called BASIC nations – will look at ways to bridge a trust deficit with rich nations, according to its agenda, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.

"How long will the Kyoto Protocol survive? Could we envisage a shorter second commitment period designed solely to secure carbon markets?" said the agenda of the meeting to be held in South Africa on April 25-26. "If no second commitment period, what would replace Kyoto?" was another question listed on the agenda. Unmitigated distrust between rich and poorer nations about who should do how much has stalled negotiations for a global deal to fight climate change. Officials say they are less hopeful of a broader deal in Mexico in November. So a willingness on the part of the BASIC nations to soften their stand on the Kyoto Protocol could help break the negotiations logjam and bring on board the United States which never ratified the protocol.   

An Indian negotiator said the agenda was "realistic" and aimed at exploring "all options to get a good deal for all". The BASIC meeting agenda also said it would consider how elements of the Copenhagen Accord, a political pact that the bloc helped broker last year along with the United States, could be included in the current negotiating process. The Copenhagen Accord sets a non-binding goal of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times and a goal of $100 billion in aid from 2020. It also lists steps by dozens of nations, including all the top greenhouse gas emitters, to either cut or curb the growth of their emissions by 2020.

The Copenhagen conference was originally meant to agree the outlines of a broader global pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. The South Africa meeting’s agenda also will consider whether the BASIC bloc of nations could be expanded and whether smaller groups of powerful nations such as the G20 bloc and the 17-nation Major Economies Forum could be useful platforms for negotiations. Poorer nations want negotiations to continue on two tracks — one working on a successor to Kyoto from 2013 and the other looking at longer term actions to fight climate change by all nations.


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