Key ob­jec­tives

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ENVIRONMENT -

THE cli­mate con­fer­ence in Can­cun, Mex­ico, is tasked with mak­ing solid progress to­wards a post2012 cli­mate treaty af­ter the near-dis­as­ter of the De­cem­ber 2009 Copen­hagen sum­mit. The talks are tak­ing place un­der the ban­ner of the UN Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change (UNFCCC), gath­er­ing 194 par­ties.

Here are its twin tracks:

Ac­tion be­yond 2012

Un­der pres­sure to re­store faith in the UN process, the con­fer­ence will be urged to ad­vance on:

> Launch­ing a new fi­nan­cial ve­hi­cle, un­of­fi­cially dubbed the Green Fund, to help poor coun­tries cope with the im­pact of cli­mate change. It could be the main source for aid, promised in Copen­hagen, that could reach US$100bil (RM350­bil) a year by 2020.

> Set­ting fi­nan­cial en­cour­age­ment to trop­i­cal coun­tries so that they pre­serve their forests rather than cut them down. Log­ging and land clear­ance have ac­counted for be­tween 12% and 25% of global emis­sions an­nu­ally over the past 15 years.

> En­cour­ag­ing the trans­fer of clean technology from rich coun­tries to poor economies.

> Agree­ing ways to mea­sure and monitor coun­tries’ ac­tions, in­clud­ing emis­sions curbs.

How­ever, the con­fer­ence is un­likely to get em­broiled in the biggest prob­lem, of ratch­et­ing up na­tional pledges on car­bon emis­sions. Nor is it likely to ad­dress the le­gal ar­chi­tec­ture for hous­ing these and other prom­ises.

Talks are also be­dev­illed about how to in­clude the Copen­hagen Ac­cord, con­tro­ver­sially cob­bled to­gether by a cou­ple of dozen coun­tries in the des­per­ate fi­nal hours of the 2009 sum­mit.

Fu­ture of the Ky­oto Pro­to­col

The out­look seems grim for the UNFCCC’s land­mark achieve­ment, the first in­ter­na­tional treaty to set down legally-bind­ing tar­gets for cut­ting green­house-gas emis­sions. Ky­oto set down com­mit­ments for in­dus­tri­alised economies that would re­duce over­all emis­sions of six cat­e­gories of green­house gases by “at least” 5% by a 2008-2012 time­frame com­pared to 1990.

Ne­go­ti­a­tions will fo­cus on a sec­ond round of Ky­oto com­mit­ments be­yond 2012, gath­er­ing all UNFCCC par­ties ex­cept the United States, which signed the ac­cord in 1997 but in 2001 re­fused to rat­ify it. The Pro­to­col has been badly wounded by the ab­sence of the US and mas­sive over­shoots in car­bon emis­sions by Canada and Aus­tralia.

It has been fur­ther weak­ened by the rise of emerg­ing giants China, In­dia and Brazil to the ranks of ma­jor pol­luters. They have no bind­ing emis­sions tar­gets, as these ap­ply only to in­dus­tri­alised coun­tries, not de­vel­op­ing economies. Sup­port for a sec­ond com­mit­ment pe­riod un­der Ky­oto af­ter 2012 is fad­ing even within the Euro­pean Union, which saved the pact af­ter the US walk­out in 2001.

De­vel­op­ing coun­tries, though, like its com­pli­ance pro­vi­sions and the way it shel­ters them from tougher obli­ga­tions un­til they emerge from poverty. For them, se­cur­ing a sec­ond com­mit­ment pe­riod is the quid pro quo for their sup­port in the other track, es­pe­cially emis­sions. – AFP

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