Climate chief pleads for 'high-level' push on Kyoto

17th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

New climate talks ended here on Friday with the UN's climate chief calling on world leaders to resolve an impasse on the Kyoto Protocol, the embattled treaty for curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

"There is a growing realisation that resolving the future of the Kyoto Protocol is an essential task this year and will require high-level political guidance," said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the 194-nation UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

"By Durban, governments need to come forward with options that will be acceptable to all parties," she told journalists, referring to the UNFCCC's annual gathering, taking place November 28-December 9 in Durban, South Africa.

Kyoto is the only international agreement with binding targets for curbing greenhouse gases.

But its future is uncertain because China and the United States, the world's No. 1 and No. 2 polluters, are not subject to its constraints.

A first commitment period covering nearly 40 industrialised countries -- except for the US, which refuses to ratify Kyoto -- expires at the end of 2012.

Japan, Canada and Russia have said they will not sign up for a new round of carbon-cutting vows.

The European Union (EU) says it will only do so if other nations -- including emerging giants such as China and India, which do not have binding targets -- beef up efforts in a parallel negotiating arena.

Developing countries, though, want the Protocol renewed in its current form.

The Protocol remains critically important because it contains proven market-based mechanisms for CO2 reduction and tools to quantify and monitor such efforts, Figueres argued.

If Kyoto collapses, it could stymie progress elsewhere in the hugely complex, dual-track talks, negotiators here warned.

Figueres said the fate of Kyoto is closely linked to progress in the parallel UNFCCC negotiations, which include all nations under the Convention.

These talks made headway in Bonn on technical matters, but remain deeply riven on the core issue of how to share out the task of slashing carbon pollution.

"Governments are realising that this link needs to be dealt with to get to a global solution, and that will require high-level leadership during the year."

There will be at at least three opportunities for such dialogue between now and late November, she said, including a summit on climate organised by Mexican President Felipe Calderon on the margin of the UN General Assembly in September.

© 2011 AFP

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