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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 17:24, November 10, 2006
Post-Kyoto Protocol talks trudge ahead
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The United Nations Climate Change Conference has opened in Kenya's capital Nairobi. During the conference, the second meeting of the Kyoto Protocol signatories will be held in conjunction with the 12th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The main topic on the agenda is post-Kyoto Protocol -- how to further reduce carbon-dioxide emissions after 2012.

After a dozen years of talks, the Kyoto Protocol came into effect in February 2005. However, the protocol only made provisions for carbon dioxide emissions between 2008 and 2012. Reaching an agreement on the follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol is proving difficult. Two sets of talks are being held with different agenda. The first is a special working group meeting under the existing protocol. The talks are between developed and transitional countries about their promises to reducing carbon dioxide in the second term under the Kyoto Protocol. The aim of the other talks is to establish long-term dialogue with the US, Australia, and other countries that haven't ratified the Kyoto Protocol, but are permitted to participate in the talks under the UN Climate Change Framework.

The conference is a major international event, and breaking the deadlock is not easy. As initiator of international talks on climate change, the European Union is resolute in it's the maintenance of the current system. However, the expansion of the EU and the economic discrepancies within it means reaching a unanimous decision and making internal policy changes is very difficult. The world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide, the United States, which announced its withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol in 2001, remains unwilling to change its hard line stance. At the beginning of the Nairobi conference, the US representative advised that while Bush remains in power, the US' position on the Kyoto Protocol will not change. According to UN statistics, between 1990 and 2004, US greenhouse gas emissions increased by 16 percent.

Post-Kyoto Protocol talks are likely to be characterized by difficulties in establishing and maintaining a balance between developed and developing countries' interests.

Of course, the outlook is not all negative; some good things have come of the Kyoto Protocol. The international trading market for carbon dioxide has developed very fast. Businesses are no longer in favor of boycotting the scheme. Instead they have tried to support and participate in the process, finding ways to adapt to market demand and looking for more business opportunities.

The post-Kyoto talks are conducted at many levels. Climate change has become a major topic at high-level political forums such as the G8 summit and the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. The conference in Nairobi is the first time that such a conference has been held in Africa. Improving African countries' capability to address climate change and realize sustainable development is of great importance to the international community. In 2005, some African countries and South American countries proposed taking measures to dos such things as reducing the logging of their forests. This will be included in the post-Kyoto Protocol UN Climate Change Framework. This is also being discussed at the special working group meeting under the framework.

Post-Kyoto Protocol climate negations will certainly not be easy.

By Chen Ying from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and translated by People's Daily Online.

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