Posted by: Hendra Siry | 4 August, 2010

Climate Pact Loopholes Risk Wiping Out Greenhouse Gas Cuts

Aug. 3 (Bloomberg) — Loopholes in the Kyoto Protocol climate treaty risk wiping out emissions reduction pledges made by developed nations for 2020, an alliance of island nations said at United Nations global warming talks in Bonn.

The pact’s rules mean current pledges by developed nations to reduce greenhouse gases by 12 percent to 18 percent by 2020 may end up leading to cuts amounting to just 1 percent to 7 percent from 1990 levels, Al Binger, a delegate from Grenada, told envoys at the meeting. That may wipe out the treaty’s goal of a 5 percent cut agreed from 2008 to 2012.

The loopholes arise from clauses in the protocol that give developed nations flexibility on how they account for greenhouse gases related to forestry and land use changes, as well as permitting countries to roll over unused pollution allowances from the first commitment period into the next one.

If the rules aren’t changed, “we basically will be running on a treadmill,” Binger said in the German city, where five days of talks are being held. “We gain nothing, and our extinction will be virtually assured.”

Binger was speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, a group of 43 low-lying and island nations. The bloc is calling for a 45-percent emissions reduction in greenhouse gases emitted by developed nations by 2020 to stave off rising sea levels that threaten to swamp their land.

Delegates in Bonn are working to iron out differences as they strive to reach a treaty to tackle climate change that eluded world leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama in Copenhagen in December. Binger made his presentation late yesterday at a session that continued early today to discuss possible changes to the Kyoto Protocol concerning forestry rules and surplus emissions allowances.

Rules Before Targets

The pledges that developed nations made in Copenhagen included the U.S., which never ratified the Kyoto Protocol, and isn’t involved in discussions over commitments to be made after 2012 under that treaty.

The world’s biggest developed emitter is still party to a wider set of UN talks that aims to bring in large developing emitters such as India and China.

Addressing the forestry accounting rules, Artur Runge- Metzger, chief climate negotiator for the European Commission, said that four possible methodologies are under consideration, and an option needs to be chosen before countries make final emissions reduction pledges.

“What is important is that you decide on the accounting method before you fix the target,” Runge-Metzger said. “Then you know what the influence of one or other of the accounting measures on your target.”

The surplus emissions allowances affect eastern European nations whose economies collapsed after 1990, the base year for the Kyoto Protocol. Because their emissions also decreased as a result of lower economic output, nations such as Russia and Ukraine will meet their 2012 targets with allowances to spare that they can either sell to nations overshooting their targets, or bank for use after 2012.

–Editors: Reed Landberg, Randall Hackley

Article Alex Morales


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