No. 238
Tuesday December 13, 2005                                                                                                                                                       Page A-35
ISSN 1523-567X
                                                                                                                                          Regulation & Law
Climate Change

 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 conclude.

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 Montreal."

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 late 2006.

Delegates and observers told BNA that despite the agreement, actual negotiations to determine what commitments should follow 2012 will be contentious.

"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, he said.

"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 and storage.

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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