Eco-Living Magazine

Kyoto Protocol Set to Expire at End of the Year

Posted on the 28 November 2012 by 2ndgreenrevolution @2ndgreenrev

Kyoto Protocol Set to Expire at End of the YearAt the end of this year, the Kyoto Protocol is set to expire, but talks in Doha, Qatar that began on Monday, November 26th and run through December 7th, aim to extend the protocol up until 2020. The Kyoto Protocol, whose main focus was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by around 5.2% of 1990 levels between the years 2008-2012, have largely been seen as a failure. With no legal requirements for ratifying nations to ensure greenhouse gas reduction targets are met, countries are simply encouraged to set their own tactics to reduce emissions. The United States never ratified the protocol, citing failure to include fast-growing economies like China and India under the protocol to reduce emissions.

With limited impact on the battle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the first Kyoto Protocol period, how engaged are the remaining countries about extending the protocol? Not very. Large greenhouse gas-emitting countries that ratified the first Kyoto Protocol, which include Russia, Japan, and Canada, have indicated they will not support further cuts in emissions. This means that the countries willing to commit to a Kyoto Protocol extension will only account for roughly 14% of the overall greenhouse-gas emissions around the world. Lack of agreement over details of the extension means the extension may not even pass, releasing all nations from the agreement.

In addition, programs set-up for rich countries to assist poorer countries in developing renewable energy sources are set to expire along with the Kyoto Protocol. Two funds, the Green Climate Fund and a “fast-start” climate fund, have generally seen limited success, but face being discontinued should countries decide against extending the protocol. The Green Climate Fund has yet to actually begin operating and the “fast-start” fund appears to consist mainly of loans rather than grants, meaning developing countries will be required to repay the money. Issues related to whether or not the money in these funds is actually being used to develop renewable energy have made richer countries, including the US, Japan, and the EU, demand detailed plans on how the money will be used for clean energy to be sure the money in these climate funds simply aren’t being siphoned into pockets. This is, of course, if the protocol lives on after the first of the year.

Seeing the Kyoto Protocol expire or be continued but with seemingly little impact is unfortunate. I would say this is a step back in the fight against climate change, but I’m not convinced the Kyoto Protocol was all that large of a step forward to begin with.

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