Over the weekend China revealed a potential way forward on bringing global greenhouse gas emissions to a level that will keep average temperature rises under 2C. China, now holding the highest proportion of any party state of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) has presented to the press conditions under which it will accept legally binding emissions reduction targets in a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. These conditions have yet to be discussed in bi-lateral negotiations or presented in plenary but they are suggested to be composed of the following:
1) EU and “other countries” need to sign on to a new legally binding targets under KP
2) $30 billion of the fast start financing be delivered for the 2010-2012 period
3) There needs to be an overall increase in GCF of $100 billion per year by 2020
4) There needs to be a tightening up and collation of smaller policy commitments called for under Copenhagen and Cancun Agreements
5) There needs to be a scientific review be conducted by 2013 to determine the extent to historic responsibility and capacity for reductions
These ambitious demands would act as a serious start bringing about the necessary emission reductions called for by the consensus of climate scientists internationally. However their remains one snag, which is that major emitters – inferred from “EU and other countries” – need to be on board. This by far seems to be the most difficult thing to try and arrange in order to make such an outcome possible.
Of notable concern is the stance of Canada towards commitment to a second KP period. At a press conference yesterday in Durban, Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent suggested it will not be swayed by China to sign on to a second commitment period. When asked this morning in the Canadian Delegation briefing Ambassador Guy St. Jacques suggested that they anticipated the actual demands from China before taking a serious opinion of them. But when asked whether the release of such details would sway Canada to being committed to a second phase of KP the ambassador deferred his response to the same speaking notes repeated since the beginning of the COP that they are looking for an alternative arrangement. Such an arrangement one can guess would be far weaker in ambition and based on voluntary targets and pledges.
This puts Canada in a seriously disappointing position. As the only major emitter to outright refuse any of China’s conditions, Canada is literally the greatest block standing in the way of an internationally agreed upon and legally binding set of emissions under a second KP period. With only a suggested six years to peak global emissions before the window on keeping global average temperatures under 2C, Canada’s failure to negotiate in good faith with the international community shows their intention to put polluters before people, especially communities downstream from the Athabasca tar sands, which Minister Kent has openly expressed his commitment to defending at COP17.
About the authorChris Bisson
Chris Bisson is a member of the Canadian Youth Delegation and a Masters of Arts candidate in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario.