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Bonn Wrap-Up: Kyoto Faces Gap, Figueres Urges Action

The latest round of U.N. talks on global warming have ended in uncertainty: not only over the future of the Kyoto Protocol, but even over when the negotiators will next meet.

UN Framework Convention (UNFCCC) executive secretary Christiana Figueres warned of a possible gap between commitment periods for the Kyoto Protocol, the Guardian reported. The first phase of the protocol, the world’s only international agreement with binding targets for greenhouse gas reduction, ends in 2012.

“By Durban, governments need to come forward with options that will be acceptable to all parties,” she said, according to Agence France-Presse. Figueres was referring to the UNFCCC’s annual meeting, set to take place November 28 to December 9 in Durban, South Africa.

Negotiations appear to be deadlocked on multiple fronts. Japan, Canada and Russia say they will not be party to the next commitment period if the world’s three biggest emitters – the U.S., China and India – do not face legal limits on their emissions.

The U.S. was the only industrialized country not to sign up to the original Kyoto protocol in 1997.

Jonathan Pershing, the State Department’s envoy at the Bonn meeting, said China and India must take on legally binding commitments if the U.S. is to do the same. So far, he told Bloomberg, the two countries had refused.

“We are not prepared to have a legal agreement that would apply to us but not to other major economies,” Pershing said. “At this point in time, all major economies have not indicated that they are willing to do that.”

The European Union says it will ratify the next agreement only if it secures commitments from other nations including China and India.  The EU says that China isn’t offering a big enough commitment, Bloomberg said.

The U.S. and China have been negotiating climate commitments outside the Kyoto Protocol, but EU delegation acting head Juergen Lefevere said the two countries haven’t provided enough information on what climate obligations they will accept.

Meanwhile, developing countries are insisting that the nearly 40 countries bound by the 1997 protocol renew and enlarge their commitments, the Washington Post says.

Talks on other matters at Bonn did make some headway, the AFP said, and in a press release Figueres said the talks had made advances on key issues. She said negotiators had achieved “strong convergence” on the role, governance and composition of an Adaptation Committee, which could be fully operational at Durban, and that governments made progress on creating a Climate Technology Centre and Network, to boost global clean tech cooperation.

It remains to be seen when negotiators will next gather to tackle the Kyoto protocol. South Africa has called for two ministerial meetings and is also proposing that heads of government meet on the margin of the U.N. General Assembly in September, the Post says. But no decisions have yet been made.

Picture credit: Jan Golinski/UNFCCC

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