Kyoto Extended at Cancun Climate Summit?

Added by on December 6, 2010

With representatives from some 190 countries partaking in the UN climate summit in Cancun, negotiations over how to reach an international agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions have been predominantly fraught, says press release.

The overall goal of the summit is arguably to build on the Copenhagen Accord, drafted at last year’s conference; and to reach a climate change consensus among developed and developing nations.

An agreement is particularly pressing as the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol – the first climate change agreement – is due to expire in 2012. Signatories of the protocol have committed to, by 2012, reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2 per cent below their 1990 levels.

Now there is disagreement whether to sign countries up for a second Kyoto commitment period, or whether to develop an alternative through the Copenhagen Accord.

Japan, who came up with the protocol, argues in favour of the alternative, with Hideki Minamikawa, deputy minister for global environment, saying “[Signatories] to Kyoto only represent 15% of global emissions, but the countries who have signed up to the Copenhagen accord cause 80% of emissions. We want a single binding treaty.”

One consequence of extending the Kyoto Protocol is that the two biggest emitters, the U.S. and China, would be left out of the equation since they have not signed the agreement.

However, developing an alternative at present reportedly seems a very remote prospect.

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