By Ed King
Australia’s government is close to signing up to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (KP2), according to a leading negotiator at the UN climate talks in Bangkok.
Australia, Japan and New Zealand have so far declined to take on a second round of emission targets under the 1997 treaty after the existing ones expire at the end of this year.
Speaking at the end of the penultimate day’s talks, the chairman of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group Pa Ousman Jarju told RTCC he was confident Julia Gillard’s administration would sign up to the extension.
“Australia are still considering the option of a second commitment period, the European Union are still talking to them,” he said.
“Australia need to come on board and we want them to be a part of this as soon as possible.”
EU negotiator Artur Runge-Metzger told RTCC today that both Australia and New Zealand had work to do back in their respective capitals to determine whether they took part in KP2.
Australia’s official opposition have already said they would consider backing a second commitment period of the Protocol. Two weeks ago the government recently announced it would join the EU’s emissions trading scheme in 2015.
Ousman Jarju said talks over the future of the Protocol this afternoon had been “positive” and that there were signs of “movement”, but revealed the LDC bloc were increasingly unhappy over the lack of ambition from developed countries.
“We cannot use the economic crisis as an excuse for not acting on climate change,” he said.
The LDC chair also warned states that were planning not to be part of KP2 that they would be denied access to CDM carbon credits, which make it cheaper for them to meet their domestic goals.
The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) allows states to meet their own emission targets by investing in cheaper carbon reduction schemes in the developing world. Approximately 995 million have been issued.
Japan and Russia have both lobbied to have access to the CDM despite choosing not to sign up to an extension, with Japan threatening to lower its voluntary pledge to cut emissions to 25% below 1990 levels by 2020 unless it receives its allocation of credits.
But Ousman Jarju said that developed states (Annex I) who chose not to be part of the Kyoto Protocol would pay a price.
“They can forget about them (CDM credits),” he said. “If you don’t want the Mango tree you should not go in for the fruits.
“They will not benefit from the flexible mechanisms of the Protocol.”
He said a priority is to ensure the deal is “legally binding” and that the market is not flooded with “hot air”, referring to the huge surplus of assigned amount units (AAUs).
Many countries have huge stockpiles of AAUs, which are emission allowances awarded to individual states based on their projected consumption, calculated by reference to their base year emissions and their quantified emission limitation and reduction commitments.
Some estimate the global surplus of AAUs could be as much as 13 billion.
Despite working closely with the EU over an extension to the Kyoto Protocol, the LDCs have expressed their disappointment over the bloc’s lack of ambition when it comes to adopting higher emission targets.
Over the weekend an EU official was quoted as saying that hopes the Union would increase its reduction targets from 20% to 25% were “wishful thinking”, but Ousman Jarju hopes member states will reconsider before COP18.
“For the EU it is (currently) impossible to raise their ambition, we hope that at the next (ministerial) meeting this will change”, he said.