Dec 052011

Durban, South Africa, 5th December – The high level segment of the UN Climate Change conference in Durban, South Africa will kick off Tuesday with the aim of salvaging talks on the key issue of a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol.

Lack of support for a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol has been overshadowing talks on other issues at the 192-party UN climate conference in Durban, South Africa which entered its second week Monday.

Mohammed Hasan Mahmud, Bangladesh Minister of Environment and Forests describing his country as “an innocent victim” of climate change, said the major parties who are the world’s largest emitters are not coming forward with firm commitments.

“In order to make Durban a success story, we have to work seriously with a sense of urgency since we are running out of time to attain a credible deal,” he told reporters Monday.

Japan, Canada and Russia have announced they do not want to undertake a second period of commitment, when the first period expires in 2012. Developing countries including those in the Caribbean have been fighting for the protocol’s survival and vowed that Durban will not be its burial ground.

Poorer nations have called for the Kyoto Protocol which commits 37 industrial countries to limit carbon emissions to be extended, but rich nations want a broader pact to include all the big polluters including India, China and Brazil. The United States has never ratified the treaty.

Poland’s Environment Minister, Marcin Korolec, also the EU Council president said the EU is interested in a second commitment period but only a few countries were agreeing to it.

“It does not make sense for the EU to accept this solution alone,” he said adding that a global agreement that includes all emitters will lead to fair competition on a global scale.

The European Union has proposed a new global deal on emissions cuts to be reached by 2015 and implemented by 2020.

EU Climate Action Commissioner, Connie Hedegaard added that the world has had enough time to think about the Kyoto Protocol.

“We don’t need more time to think, we need action,” she said.

Japan Ambassador Masahiko Horie said it was unfair that Annex 1 industrialized countries under the Kyoto Protocol who emit 26 percent of emissions are legally bound while the big emitters such as the United States, China and India who contribute over 50 percent of emissions are not legally bound and are not committed to any legal targets

“Our ultimate goal is the adoption of a document where the major economies participate,” Ambassador Horie said.

Meanwhile, civil society executives representing some of the biggest unions, environmental organizations and development groups in the world issued a strong warning call Monday as negotiations enter their second week.

Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director, Greenpeace International, said the time has come for the US to stand aside.

“If it is not willing to save lives, save jobs and save whole ecosystems then it should get out of the way and let those who are willing move on. Any failure to move beyond US obstructionism will be measured in lives,” said Naidoo.

Celine Charveriat, Director of Advocacy & Campaigns at Oxfam International, said the US is pitching an alarming narrative to lock in a ten-year timeout with no new targets to lower emissions until 2020.

“This perilous course of action must be stopped dead in its tracks. The world’s poorest people, who are already suffering the impacts of a changing climate, simply cannot wait another decade for action to bring emissions in line with what science so clearly requires. If the US insists on pushing this dangerous pathway, they must stand aside and allow other countries to move forward without them.”

Jim Leape, Director General, WWF International, said the Durban conference is not delivering ambition on emissions reductions.

Blaming governments like the United States, he said there is not a single scenario on the negotiating table to avoid runaway climate change.

“With no ambition on emission reductions and an apparent timeline aimed at 2020 for implementation, we could end up legally bound to a 4 degree world. And that’s just unacceptable.”

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