Canada: Did Anything Happen At Durban?

Last Updated: December 20 2011
Article by Dianne Saxe

I am profoundly depressed by the thicket of verbiage coming out of Durban about climate change. So countries promise to agree to promise to do what they promise (if everyone else does too). Great. The Kyoto Protocol was supposed to be legally binding too, but there have been no meaningful consequences for countries, such as Canada, that have publicly flouted their obligations.

As Matthew Glass predicted in Ultimatum, I fear that politicians will claim victory in the endless rounds of international meetings, decade after decade, without making real changes. Will the global north really give the global south a strings-free Global Climate Fund of $100 billion a year? And if we did, would it stop China and India from building ever more coal-fired generating plants?

As bureaucracies and acronyms multiply, I fear that ice will continue to melt, the seas to rise, and deserts to spread. Europe isn't even managing its own currency; how can it expect to lead the world to a new, low-carbon economy? And the US government can't seem to agree on anything.

Instead, perhaps we should refocus on what can be done locally, as in Evergreen's Green Cities campaign. Improve transit and other non-car options. Tax emissions instead of income. Get serious about conserving energy and water. Meet more of our needs locally. Eat food, mostly plants, not too much, and preferably with others. Prepare buildings and infrastructure for hot summers and intense storms. Plant trees. Don't we have enough to do in our own backyard, without pretending that we can fix everyone else's problems too?

Am I too pessimistic? Tell me why.

Here is the advance text of the Durban draft decision. Be warned: its weakness is betrayed in long, prolix, round-about sentences, that are hard to read and harder to understand. You'll also note that Canada's name is across from a blank at the end:

Draft decision -/CMP.7

Outcome of the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol at its sixteenth session

The Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol,

Recalling Article 3, paragraph 9, of the Kyoto Protocol, Also recalling Article 20, paragraph 2, and Article 21, paragraph 7, of the Kyoto Protocol,

Further recalling decisions 1/CMP.1, 1/CMP.5 and 1/CMP.6,

Noting with appreciation the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol,

Noting also the importance of developing a comprehensive global response to the problem of climate change,

Recognizing the importance of ensuring the environmental integrity of the Kyoto Protocol,

Cognizant of decision -/CP.17,1

Emphasizing the role of the Kyoto Protocol in the mitigation effort by Parties included in Annex I, the importance of ensuring continuity in mitigation action by those Parties and the need to begin the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol without delay,

Aiming to ensure that aggregate emissions of greenhouse gases by Parties included in Annex I are reduced by at least 25ñ40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, noting in this regard the relevance of the review referred to in Chapter V of decision 1/CP.16 to be concluded by 2015,

Taking note of the outcomes of the technical assessment of forest management reference levels referred to in paragraph 5 of decision 2/CMP.6,

1. Decides that the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol shall begin on 1 January 2013 and end either on 31 December 2017 or 31 December 2020, to be decided by the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol at its seventeenth session;

2. Welcomes the agreement achieved by the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol on its work pursuant to decisions 1/CMP.1, 1/CMP.5 and 1/CMP.6 in the areas of land use, land-use change and forestry (decision -/CMP.7),2 emissions trading and the project-based mechanisms (decision -/CMP.7),3 greenhouse gases, sectors and source categories, common metrics to calculate the carbon dioxide equivalence of anthropogenic emissions by sources and

1 Draft decision proposed for adoption under agenda item 4 of the Conference of the Parties. 2 Draft decision proposed for adoption under agenda item 4 of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. 3 See footnote 2.

removals by sinks, and other methodological issues (decision -/CMP.7)4 and the consideration of information on potential environmental, economic and social consequences, including spillover effects, of tools, policies, measures and methodologies available to Annex I Parties (decision -/CMP.7);5

3. Takes note of the proposed amendments to the Kyoto Protocol developed by the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol as contained in Annexes 1, 2 and 3 to this decision;

4. Further takes note of the quantified economy-wide emission reduction targets to be implemented by Parties included in Annex I as communicated by them and presented in Annex 1 to this decision and of the intention of these Parties to convert these targets to quantified emission limitation or reduction objectives (QELROs) for the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol;

5. Invites Parties included in Annex I listed in Annex 1 to this decision to submit information on their QELROs for the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol by 1 May 2012 for consideration by the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol at its seventeenth session;

6. Requests the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol to deliver the results of its work on QELROs to the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol at its eighth session with a view to the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol adopting these QELROs as amendments to Annex B of the Kyoto Protocol at that session, while ensuring coherence with the implementation of decision -/CP.176;

7. Requests the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol to assess the implications of the carry-over of assigned amount units to the second commitment period on the scale of emission reductions to be achieved by Parties included in Annex I in aggregate for the second commitment period with a view to completing this work at its seventeenth session;

8. Requests the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol to recommend appropriate actions to be taken to address the implications referred to in paragraph 7 above and to forward these recommendations in time for consideration by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol at its eighth session;

9. Requests the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice to assess and address the implications of the implementation of decisions -/CMP.77 referred to in paragraph 2 above on the previous decisions on methodological issues related to the Kyoto Protocol adopted by Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol including those relating to Articles 5, 7 and 8 of the Kyoto Protocol, with a view to preparing relevant draft decisions for consideration and adoption by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol at its eighth session, and noting that some issues may need to be addressed at subsequent sessions of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol;

10. Requests the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol to aim to deliver the results of its work pursuant to decision 1/CMP.1 in time to complete its work by the eighth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol.

4 See footnote 2 5 See footnote 2. 6 Draft decision proposed for adoption under agenda item 4 of the Conference of the Parties. 7 Draft decision proposed for adoption under agenda item 4 of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol.

Annex I

Proposed amendments to Annex B to the Kyoto Protocol

The following table shall replace the table in Annex B to the Protocol:

Annex B

1 23456

Party

Australiaa Austria Belarusc* Belgium Bulgaria* Croatia* Cypruse Czech Republic* Denmark Estonia* European Unionf, g Finland reference

108 92 b n/a

1990 92 b n/a 92 b n/a 95 d 1990 b n/a 92 b n/a 92 b n/a 92 b n/a 92 b n/a 92 b n/a 92 b n/a 92 b n/a 92 b n/a 94 b n/a

France Germany Greece Hungary* Iceland 110 Ireland 92 Italy 92 Kazakhstanj*

i 1990 b n/a b n/a

1992 b n/a 1990

Quantified Quantified emission

Quantified emission limitation or reduction commitment (2013ñ[2017] [2020]) (expressed as percentage of reference year8)

n/a

n/a n/a

n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a

n/a n/a

n/a

Pledges for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2020 (percentage of reference year)9

-5% to -10%

-5%

-20% /-30%h

-15% /-30%

-15% -20%/-30%

emission limitation or limitation or reduction reduction commitment commitment (2013ñ[2017] (2008ñ2012) [2020]) (percentage (percentage of of base year base year or or period) period) year8

Latvia* 92 Liechtenstein 92

8 A reference year may be used by a Party QELRO as a percentage of emissions of that year, that is not internationally binding under the Kyoto Protocol, in addition to the listing of its QELRO in relation to the base year in the second and third columns of this table, which are internationally legally binding.

9 Further information on these pledges can be found in document FCCC/SB/2011/INF.1/Rev.1.

on an optional basis for its own purposes to express its

1 23456

Quantified Quantified emission

Quantified emission limitation or reduction commitment (2013ñ[2017] [2020]) (expressed as percentage of reference year8)

n/a n/a n/a

n/a

n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a

n/a

Pledges for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2020 (percentage of reference year)9

-30%

-30% to -40%m

-20% to 30%n -20%

emission limitation or limitation or reduction reduction commitment commitment (2013ñ[2017] (2008ñ2012) [2020]) (percentage (percentage of of base year base year or or period) period) year8

Party

Lithuania* Luxembourg Maltak Monaco Netherlands New Zealandl Norway

Poland* Portugal Romania* Slovakia* Slovenia* Spain Sweden Switzerland Ukraine*

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

United States of Americao

Party

Canadap Japanq Russian Federationr*

reference

92 b n/a 92 b n/a b n/a 92 1990 92 b n/a

100 101 1990

94 b n/a 92 b n/a 92 b n/a 92 b n/a 92 b n/a 92 b n/a 92 b n/a 92 1990

100 1990 92 b n/a

Quantified emission limitation or reduction commitment (2008ñ 2012) (percentage of base year or period)

94

94 100

* Countries that are undergoing the process of transition to a market economy.

Notes: a Australia is prepared to consider submitting information on its QELRO pursuant to decision 1/CMP.7, paragraph 5, following the necessary domestic processes and taking into account decision 1/CP.17 and decisions on mitigation (-/CP.17) and the ëindabaí/mandate outcome decision (-/CP.17) and decisions -/CMP.7 (Land use, land-use change and forestry), -/CMP.7 (Emissions trading and the project-based mechanisms, -/CMP.7 (Greenhouse gases, sectors and source categories, common metrics to calculate the carbon dioxide equivalence of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks, and other methodological issues and -/CMP.7 (Consideration of information on potential environmental, economic and social consequences, including spillover effects, of tools, policies, measures and methodologies available to Annex I Parties). b The QELROs for the European Union and its Member States for a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol are based on the understanding that these will be fulfilled jointly with the European Union and its Member States, in accordance with Article 4 of the Kyoto Protocol. c Added to Annex B by an amendment adopted pursuant to decision 10/CMP.2. This amendment has not yet entered into force. d Croatiaís QELRO for a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol is based on the understanding that it will fulfil this QELRO jointly with the European Union and its Member States, in accordance with Article 4 of the Kyoto Protocol. As a consequence, Croatiaís accession to the European Union shall not affect its participation in such joint fulfilment agreement pursuant to Article 4 or its QELRO. e [At its seventeenth session, the Conference of the Parties decided to amend Annex I to the Convention by including the name of Cyprus (decision -/CP.17). The amendment will enter into force on 1 January 2013 or a later date.] f Upon deposit of its instrument of approval to the Kyoto Protocol on 31 May 2002, the European Community had 15 Member States. g Upon deposit of its instrument of acceptance of the amendment to Annex B to the Kyoto Protocol on [date], the European Union had 27 Member States. h As part of a global and comprehensive agreement for the period beyond 2012, the European Union reiterates its conditional offer to move to a 30% reduction by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, provided that other developed countries commit themselves to comparable emission reductions and developing countries contribute adequately according to their responsibilities and respective capabilities. i Icelandís QELRO for a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol is based on the understanding that it will fulfil this QELRO jointly with the European Union and its Member States, in accordance with Article 4 of the Kyoto Protocol. As a consequence, future accession by Iceland to the European Union shall not affect its participation in such joint fulfilment agreement pursuant to Article 4 or its QELRO. j Kazakhstan has submitted a proposal to amend the Kyoto Protocol to include its name in Annex B with a quantified emission limitation and reduction commitment of 100 per cent for the first commitment period. This proposal is contained in document FCCC/KP/CMP/2010/4. k At its fifteenth session, the Conference of the Parties decided to amend Annex I to the Convention by including the name of Malta (decision 3/CP.15). The amendment entered into force on 26 October 2010. l New Zealand is prepared to consider submitting information on its QELRO, pursuant to decision 1/CMP.7, paragraph 5, following the necessary domestic processes and taking into account decision 1/CP.17, decisions on mitigation (-/CP.17) and the ëindabaí/mandate outcome decision (-/CP.17) and decisions -/CMP.7 (Land use, land-use change and forestry), -/CMP.7 (Emissions trading and the project-based mechanisms, -/CMP.7 (Greenhouse gases, sectors and source categories, common metrics to calculate the carbon dioxide equivalence of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks, and other methodological issues and -/CMP.7 (Consideration of information on potential environmental, economic and social consequences, including spillover effects, of tools, policies, measures and methodologies available to Annex I Parties) . m As part of a global and comprehensive agreement for the period beyond 2012 where major emitting Parties agree on emission reductions in line with the 2 degrees celsius target, Norway will move to a level of 40 per cent reduction for 2020 based on 1990 levels. n Switzerland would consider a higher reduction target of 30 per cent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, under the condition that other developed countries commit themselves to comparable emissions reductions and that economically more advanced developing countries contribute adequately according to their responsibilties and respective capabilities. o Countries that have not ratified the Kyoto Protocol.

p On 8 June 2011, Canada indicated that it does not intend to participate in a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. q In a communication dated 10 December 2010, Japan indicated that it does not have any intention to be under obligation of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol after 2012.

r In a communication dated 8 December 2010 that was received by the secretariat on 9 December 2010, the Russian Federation has indicated that it does not intend to assume a quantitative emission limitation or reduction commitment for the second commitment period.

Annex II

Proposed amendments to Annex A to the Kyoto Protocol

The following table shall replace the list under the heading ìGreenhouse gasesî in Annex A to the Protocol:

Greenhouse gases

Carbon dioxide (CO2) Methane (CH4) Nitrous oxide (N2O) Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3)

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