Doha climate talks throw lifeline to Kyoto Protocol

DOHA Sat Dec 8, 2012 2:44pm EST

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon talks during the opening ceremony of the plenary session of the high-level segment of the 18th session of the Conference of Parties (COP18) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Doha December 4, 2012. REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon talks during the opening ceremony of the plenary session of the high-level segment of the 18th session of the Conference of Parties (COP18) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Doha December 4, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Fadi Al-Assaad

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DOHA (Reuters) - Almost 200 nations extended a weakened United Nations plan for combating global warming until 2020 on Saturday with a modest set of measures that would do nothing to halt rising world greenhouse gas emissions.

Many countries and environmentalists said the deal at the end of marathon two-week U.N. talks in OPEC-member Qatar would fail to slow rising temperatures or avert more floods, droughts, heatwaves and rising sea levels.

Environment ministers extended until 2020 the Kyoto Protocol, which obliges about 35 industrialized nations to cut their greenhouse gas emissions until the end of 2012. That keeps the pact alive as the sole legally binding climate plan.

But the 1997 treaty, 23 days away from expiry, has been sapped by the withdrawal of Russia, Japan and Canada and its remaining backers, led by the European Union and Australia, now account for just 15 percent of world greenhouse gas emissions.

"Much, much more is needed if we are really going to address climate change and reduce emissions," said Kieren Keke, foreign minister of the Pacific island state of Nauru on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States.

He warned against endless talk that "locks in the death of our nations and of our children". Most nations favored keeping even a shrunken Kyoto as a blueprint for future action.

"It was not an easy ride. It was not a beautiful ride. It was not a fast ride, but we managed to cross the bridge and hopefully we can increase our speed," European Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said.

CHINA, INDIA

She said the deal would pave the way to talks on a new, global U.N. pact meant to be agreed in 2015 and enter into force in 2020, when Kyoto now expires. It will have emissions goals for all, including emerging nations led by China and India.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the deal but reckoned that "far more needs to be done," his spokesman said.

Environmentalists were unimpressed by the set of deals called the "Doha Climate Gateway".

"The U.N. climate talks failed to deliver increased cuts to carbon pollution, nor did they provide any credible pathway to $100 billion per year in finance by 2020 to help the poorest countries," the Climate Action Network-International said.

"There's a huge disconnect between the urgency on the outside and what happens here," said Jennifer Haverkamp of the Environmental Defense Fund.

The texts merely encouraged developed nations to raise aid from a current $10 billion a year from 2010-12 to help the poor cut emissions and adapt to a changing climate.

Some major nations voiced objections as soon as the applause ended in the final plenary on Saturday night. U.S. Climate Envoy Todd Stern said Washington could not accept a reference to a 1992 U.N. climate Convention in one text.

And Russia said it opposed the terms for extending the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012. Russia wanted less stringent limits on unused carbon emissions permits, known as hot air.

World carbon dioxide emissions are set to rise by 2.6 percent this year, and are about 58 percent higher than in 1990. Recent growth has come mostly from emerging nations, led by China and India.

One decision raised the possibility of a new "mechanism" to help developing nations cope with losses and damage from everything from hurricanes to a creeping rise in sea levels.

"Doha delivered just enough to keep the process moving. By resolving the key issues, all countries are now on a single track to enter into a new international climate agreement by 2015," said Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute.

Kyoto obliged about 35 industrialized nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by an average of at least 5.2 percent below 1990 levels during the period from 2008 to 2012.

The European Union, for instance, says it will deepen its cut to at least 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

Kyoto would have expired at the end of 2012 without an extension. The nations pulling out - Russia, Japan and Canada - say it is meaningless to take on new targets when emerging nations have none. And Washington never ratified the pact.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Allan, Ben Garside, Stian Reklev and Marton Kruppa; Writing by Alister Doyle; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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Comments (2)
MrSirGareth wrote:
Plush vacations; wining and dining at world class resort spas and all on the taxpayer dole.

The trick is to find the right “crisis” to “study” and discuss endlessly. The “global warming crisis” has lost its panache. Events to revive is under some new ‘nom de plume’ (“climate change” “climate disruption” “too much rain” “too little rain” “too warm” “too cold” “too dry” etc) have all failed miserably. Lets face it, it’s all now more boring than bomb shelter plans.

We have seen this in the past the bomb shelter sales people of the 50s had to find a new line of work; they all became “climatologists”

In an effort to keep the taxpayer paid plush vacations for bureaucrats as an ongoing “perk”, there is a desperate search for a new hobgoblin with which to frighten the superstitious and ignorant.

Since bureaucrats (climatologists) have as much imagination as a broken alarm clock we need to help them develop a brand new crisis.

Here are some they might wish to try:

1) The cauliflower shortage “crisis”
2) The not enough places to store unwanted pennies “crisis”
3) The Hollywood actor’s lack of enough crises, “crisis”
4) The Hotel beach towel shortage “crisis”

This is just a modest offering and perhaps all of these “crisis” can be worked together to provide a “perfect convergence” of unimaginable terror.

Dec 08, 2012 8:42am EST  --  Report as abuse
FactualBasis wrote:
Claim made in this article: ‘Recent growth has come mostly from emerging nations, led by China and India.’

Fact Check: India’s per-capita emissions are among the lowest in the world, still less than a third of global per-capita emissions.

2011 per-capita emissions estimates (metric tons per person): World: 4.9, CHINA: 7.2, US: 17.3, INDIA: 1.6, Russia: 12.8, Japan: 9.8, Germany: 9.9, Iran: 5.5, South Korea: 12.6, Canada: 16.2, South Africa: 7.2. EU-27: 8.57. Data Source: EDGAR database (EU).

The fastest growth in emissions is coming from China (whose per-capita emissions now exceed global per-capita, coming from large amount of manufacturing exports) and the middle east (where both population and per-capita are rapidly rising, doubling the impact on co2 emissions from that region.)

Dec 08, 2012 5:25pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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