“Ambition” and “equity” were the two key concepts mentioned most often in a side event sponsored by the Third World Network.
Meena Raman from Malaysia began by outlining the issues that face us at this particular junction. She noted that the science is clear that massive emissions reductions are necessary now, and that a legally binding treaty is necessary where the amount of emissions deduction is consistent with the science. We are at a crossroads where we are leaving the two tracks, the Ad Hoc Working Group under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) and the Ad Hoc Working Group for Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) under the Bali Action Plan (BAP), and moving towards the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) which should be in place by 2020.
In the AWG-KP track, the Annex 1 Parties (developed countries and economies in transition) are negotiating a second commitment period of 5 or 8 years and the emission reduction targets. The first commitment period expires at the end of December 2012. The United States never ratified the Kyoto Protocol and withdrew years ago. This past year, Canada dropped out of the Kyoto Protocol, and Japan, Russia and New Zealand have refused to participate in a second commitment period. Australia is undecided, leaving only the European Union. The EU has proposed committing to 20% cut by 2020 compared to 1990, a goal which it has essentially already achieved. In Ms. Raman’s view, there is nothing ambitious on the table, pointing out that “nobody leaves the Kyoto Protocol to do more.” Her fear is that we will lose a decade, making it all the more difficult to meet emission reduction targets in the future.
The Bali Action Plan also called for “comparable efforts,” which the U.S. delegation resists. At this point, the developing countries feel that they are being expected to take on too much of the burden. Ms. Raman notes that one out of two of the extreme weather events of recent years have affected developing nations, and yet the developing nations have not been responsible for the historical emissions.