Tuesday December 13, 2005
Regulation & Law
Kyoto Talks End With Agreement to Open
Negotiations on Post-2012 Commitments
MONTREAL--The annual U.N. Climate Change Conference ended Dec. 10, a
day late, with an agreement from 157 countries to begin discussions on
post-2012 commitments and a separate agreement from the United States
to participate in a "dialogue" on how to best combat climate change.
The text of the agreement on negotiations regarding what will follow
the Kyoto Protocol's 2008-2012 commitment period did not include a
final target date, but it did say there should be "no gap" in
commitment rules, which would necessitate a conclusion several years
before 2012 to allow preparations for a clean transition.
The conference, which served as the 1st Meeting of the Parties to the
Kyoto Protocol (MOP-1), was required to "initiate consideration" of
post-2012 under the treaty's Article 3.9. Agreement on the topic was
only reached the morning after the conference was scheduled to
The agreement also contained a provision requiring developing countries
take steps "on a pathway ... toward voluntary reductions."
Despite the lack of a firm commitment, "This is a very big deal because
it widens the umbrella of countries taking actual steps to reduce
emissions," Annie Petsonk, counsel to advocacy group Environment
Defense told BNA. "The agreement for this pathway toward voluntary
measures from developing states is a crucial part of what happened in
Move Forward on Developing Countries
The United States, which has cited the lack of participation from
developing countries as one of its reasons for opting out of the Kyoto
Protocol, noted the agreement. "This is a very interesting
development," chief U.S. negotiator Harlan Watson told reporters after
the measure was adopted.
Parties will now be called on to submit proposals on how developing
economies can participate. Formal talks on incorporating developing
countries in the Kyoto process are due to start at the MOP-2 meeting in
Delegates and observers told BNA that despite the agreement, actual
negotiations to determine what commitments should follow 2012 will be
"We have to keep this in perspective," Aldo Iacomelli, a member of the
Italian delegation and the general secretary of the Italian offices of
the International Solar Energy Society, told BNA. "Yes, we have an
agreement to discuss the post-2012 period, and, yes, that period will
look a lot like the first period in terms of capping emissions and
trading from there. But I don't see any agreement for how these targets
should look after 2012. Getting an agreement on that will make this
whole process so far look easy."
However, information due to be submitted by January by parties to the
U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, the parent
agreement of the Kyoto Protocol) should help move discussions forward,
"The updated information we see in early 2006 might make it much
clearer that something needs to be done very quickly," Iacomelli said.
Agreements on Range of Issues
At the two-week meeting, the 157 parties to the Kyoto Protocol also adopted some 35 other measures.
Under an agreement on compliance, parties that fail to meet their
Kyoto-mandated emissions reduction targets during the 2008-2012
commitment period will be required to make those reductions plus a 30
percent penalty in the following period.
Delegates also agreed to carry out a five-year study on adaptation to
climate change and to formally study the technology of carbon capture
Furthermore, developed countries agreed to continue to fund the
operation of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Executive Board with
a commitment of $13.2 million between 2006 and 2007. Delegates also
streamlined the process for approving CDM methodologies. Kyoto's CDM
provisions allow developed countries to get credit for supporting
projects to cut greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries.
The MOP-1 meetings also served as the 11th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC.
The 189 parties to UNFCCC, which includes the United States, adopted a
separate 14 measures, including the one mentioned above to "engage in a
dialogue, without prejudice to any future negotiations, commitments,
process, framework, or mandate under the Convention, to exchange
experiences and analyze strategic approaches for long-term cooperative
action to address climate change."
One issue that was not resolved was where to hold the next U.N. Climate
Change Conference. Possible venues include Nairobi, Kenya; Dakkar,
Senegal; Lyon, France; and Bonn, Germany.
By Eric J. Lyman
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