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Least Developed Countries express worry over Kyoto Protocol

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The Alliance of Small Island States (SIS), the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), and the Africa Group, which together represent over a billion people most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, has expressed worry that the environmental integrity of the Kyoto Protocol is eroding.

In a joint statement issued to mark the close of the UN climate change negotiations in Bangkok, Thailand, the group said “We are concerned that the environmental integrity of the Kyoto Protocol, which is the only international treaty that legally binds developed countries to lower emissions, and thus our lone assurance that action will be taken, is eroding before our eyes.”

Urging countries to fulfil their responsibility to address the climate change crisis, the Alliance outlined some key expectations for the remaining days in Bangkok, as well as the upcoming talks in Doha.

Saying this will require action in Doha that prioritises reducing emissions that is in line with the latest scientific recommendations, they charged Annex I Parties – including those that have not yet submitted Quantified Emission Limitation Reduction Objectives (QELROs), to raise the ambition of their economy-wide emission reduction commitments and submit legally binding, single number QELROS without conditions for inclusion in an amended Annex B of the Kyoto Protocol.

“The second commitment period should be for a length of five-years to avoid locking in insufficient ambition,” while “The use of surplus units from the first commitment period must be dramatically curbed in the second commitment period to protect the environmental integrity of the second commitment period,” the Alliance charged.

The SIS, LDCs and Africa Group also stressed that Parties must reaffirm that legally binding QELROS inscribed in Annex B for the second commitment period are required for all Annex I Parties wishing to participate in the mechanisms.

“Parties must affirm that the compliance system of the Kyoto Protocol applies to the second commitment period,” while “Annex 1 countries that are not parties to the Kyoto Protocol should take ambitious commitments under the LCA,” they charged further.

In the view of the Alliance, if hard decisions to cut emissions are not made by all developed countries, developing countries will be forced to confront issues of adaptation on a previously unimaginable scale.

The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). It was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. The detailed rules for the implementation of the Protocol were adopted at COP 7 in Marrakesh in 2001, and are called the “Marrakesh Accords.”

The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialised countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions .These amount to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012.

The major distinction between the Protocol and the Convention is that while the Convention encouraged industrialised countries to stabilise GHG emissions, the Protocol commits them to do so.

Recognising that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.”

By Edmund Smith-Asante

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