December 02, 2011

Will Durban COP17 effectively bury the Kyoto protocol?

The indications were there right from the Copenhagen COP15 -- many developed countries were intending to abandon the Kyoto Protocol, unless the major developing countries take on significant mitigation responsibilities. Cancun COP16 only strengthened this trend, and in Durban - several developed countries are asking for a "DURBAN MANDATE" to "launch a process for a new global treaty" to address the deepening climate change crisis.

Lead by japan, Australia, even European Union -- developed countries are asking for a “new global and comprehensive legally binding (mitigation) framework” which will legally bind all “major economies”, including China, India, south africa, brazil, Mexico etc. into commitments of mitigation (and may be even climate finance). Japan & EU have demanded the setting up of a new working group to launch this process towards a new treaty !

All these means that the developed country parties are no longer feeling bound by their commitments under the Kyoto Protocol -- the only legally binding agreement in the area of climate change crisis. And the demand for a Durban Mandate to launch a process for a comprehensive treaty means essentially that the 2nd commitment period of the Kyoto protocol will not be there, and some diluted, business friendly hotch-potch will be signed on, leaving the field wide open for unmitigated business profits as usual -- as the driving force, rather than the facts from science/ research & World opinion -- become the enabling environment for business & profit.

The wild dogs always hunt in packs. Similar is the case for the hunting developed countries. First they sucked the resources of the poorer countries hollow, locking them into a viscious cycle of deprivation. Then they dumped huge amounts of atmospheric & oceanic pollutants into the common atmosphere & hydrosphere -- creating the climate crisis . Now they want the poor to mitigate or take care of the problem of climate change, and also negate their international legal commitments . Its just one more year -- since 2012 - when the first commitment period of the KP ends, releasing all the rich polluting countries from doing anything under legal frameworks.

In true hunting dog fashion, the lead dog is identified here as Canada -- who have indicated that they will formally leave the Kyoto Protocol , and it might not be long before the rest of the pack show up to hunt the victims -- here the LDCs, the Small Island states etc. They (AOSIS) in turn have called for a "Durban mandate to secure a legally binding agreement to reflect the outcome of the work of the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA)". They are also demanding that the KP continues. Though KP has delivered very little, its still the only legal architecture which recognizes climate change as being created by rich nations and fixes responsibility on them. That is the proverbial straw the poor are trying to hold on to.

Egypt, Saudi arabi, Nigeria etc, opposed the proposal for a new Durban mandate towards a new legal framework, and wanted the existing work under the Bali Action Plan (BAP) through the AWG-LCA to be completed and to deliver its outcome, in an open-ended consultation of Parties & observers. BUT with developing countries under some economic stress, and their opportunistic reluctance to follow on Kyoto Protocol's 2nd commitment period, it is quite likely that the Kyoto Protocol will be given an un-announced burial; in Durban.

So, the world will return to the "Might Is Right" framework in respect of the grave emerging crisis of cliamte change. Not a very good prospect for a world that claims to be civilised.
Soumya Dutta

Beyond Copenhagen Coalition


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