EU calms Kyoto Protocol ratification storm

By Ed King

The European Union has moved to assure nations taking part at the UN climate negotiations that the second period of the Kyoto Protocol (CP2) will be ratified by member states in 2013.

A number of nations linked to the G77 raised concerns over the lack of ratification during talks taking place in Bonn this week.

Ecuador negotiator Daniel Ortega told RTCC slow progress on making CP2 law in countries that signed up in 2012 was a “major concern” and “blocking negotiations”.

But addressing delegates at this morning’s closing session, head of the EU delegation Artur Runge-Metzger said he expected national Parliaments to start signing off CP2 after the summer.

“In Europe we are implementing what we have committed to as of January 1 2013, that is the good news,” he said.

“At the same time we are working on ratification. Coordination in the EU is not an easy thing. We want to continue as a bubble with Croatia and Iceland. This requires ratification as a union and as individual participants.

“Everything needs to be sorted out. We strive to table a ratification proposal after the summer break.”

The second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Doha and runs from 2013-2020 (Pic: Bruce Guenter)

UN climate implementation chief Halldor Thorgeirsson added the ratification process was being carefully watched by the UN, assuring countries they could monitor the ratification progress on the UNFCCC website “in real time”.

Questions remain over Australia’s continued participation, given the strong possibility the climate sceptical Liberal Party will be elected in September.

An eight year extension to the world’s only legally binding emissions treaty was agreed in Doha last December, signed by the EU, Norway, Croatia, Iceland, Switzerland, Australia, Monaco and Liechtenstein.

Despite covering only around 14% of emissions, it is regarded as a crucial part of global climate governance, and a demonstration of developed countries’ willingness to adopt greenhouse gas targets.

What may seem to outsiders as a slightly technical and pedantic row illustrates the lack of trust that still exists between many parties in the UN climate arena.

A lack of finance flows and emission pledges from developed nations – particularly those outside the Kyoto Protocol – has only exacerbated this situation.

It also emphasises the fact that while a signed climate deal at the 2015 Paris summit may be widely celebrated at the time, the true test will come as the 195 parties attempt to push legislation through their domestic Parliaments.

Ecuador’s Ortega said there was a concern among the G77 that unless pressure is kept on those nations that signed CP2, some could stop implementing emission reductions.

“If you look at the Vienna Convention, it says that if any instrument does not enter into force essentially it doesn’t have any life,” he said.

“We have heard the EU, but if you look at the historical periods of ratification for other instruments, I would be very interested in seeing that they have come into force in five years.

“We have said this inside. This is blocking the negotiations. We want to establish pressure so everybody ratifies. We don’t want to move ahead to something else.”

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