LONDON The Kyoto Protocol cannot be laid to rest at a U.N. climate summit in Durban next month as the legitimacy of the 1997 global climate pact will be undermined, a senior South African lawmaker said on Monday.
International negotiators are due to meet in South Africa next month aiming to make progress on a new global binding climate pact to succeed Kyoto but expectations are low as rifts from previous summits continue.
"We cannot allow Durban to be the graveyard of the Kyoto Protocol," Cedric Thomas Frolick, house chairperson of the South Africa Parliament's National Assembly, said in an interview.
"It raises the question of legitimacy (of the commitments made under the pact) if countries want to walk away and start something new," he added.
The first commitment period of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol ends next year. The pact was intended to limit the adverse effects of climate change but only obliged developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The United States, one of the biggest emitters in the world, never signed the deal and developing countries like China have since become major emitters.
Russia, Canada and Japan have said they will not sign up for another Kyoto commitment period when the current one expires in 2012.
The European Union has said it would support a second Kyoto phase if other nations commit to ambitious emissions cuts.
South Africa, as the host of this year's summit from November 28 to December 9, wants a second commitment period but its form is still being finalized, Frolick said.
"There is the indication (from last week's Inter-Parliamentary Union meeting in Bern) that Japanese delegates have raised serious concerns about a second commitment period and discussion is taking place around that," he said.
Domestic issues like upcoming U.S. elections and economic slowdown in many countries are also likely to heavily influence the direction of talks this year.
Rich and poorer nations have repeatedly clashed over emissions cut ambitions and finance.
This month, the United States and Saudi Arabia were accused of hampering talks on designing a fund to channel up to $100 million a year by 2020 for developing countries most vulnerable to climate change.
"Serious issues emerged on who brings what (to the fund) and who takes what," Frolick said.
The biggest issue for developing countries is getting direct access to finance, without going through third parties, which is bureaucratic and expensive.
"In Durban, a likely key element will be about how to fast-track the process, without going through intermediary companies."