Analysis: WWF Warns that Climate Negotiations May Collapse

Posted on 30 November 2012    
At the current rate Climate Savers companies overall emissions savings could exceed 350 million tonnes by 2020
© Rob Webster/WWF
Doha, Qatar – With little more than one week of talks to go in Doha, there is a real risk that countries will lose sight of why they are really here – to agree on ways to cut global greenhouse gas emissions.

“It is becoming clear that there is little hope of countries strengthening their national emission targets in Doha in order to have a tangible impact on global emissions they need to agree on strong rules to govern the transfer and use of surplus carbon permits from the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period into the second commitment period,” WWF said in a statement.

At the start of the Kyoto Protocol, some participatory countries received carbon credits – known as Assigned Amount Units (AAUs). These carbon credits represent an allowance to emit greenhouse gases, with each credit the equivalent to one tonne of CO2.

Emissions trading, as set out in the Kyoto Protocol, allows countries that have emission units to spare - emissions permitted them but not "used" - to sell this excess capacity to countries that are over their targets.

It has been estimated that there will be up to 13 billion tonnes worth of AAUs left over when phase one of the Kyoto Protocol ends in four weeks’ time.

“It is our wish that this surplus of AAUs is due to the hard work of Kyoto members. Sadly this is not the case,” says Tasneem Essop, WWF Head of Delegation to COP18.

The 13 billion tonnes worth of AAUs is almost entirely due to the decline in the economies of Eastern European countries such as Russia, Ukraine and Poland. The reduction in economic output led to a massive drop in carbon emissions in these countries. This would have happened irrespective of the targets these countries adopted under the Kyoto Protocol and indeed was well underway even before the protocol was signed.

In simple terms, the surplus is little more than ‘hot air’, which delivers no real reduction in global emissions and undermines the environmental integrity of the Kyoto Protocol. It would allow these countries to continue polluting without breaching their already weak emission reduction targets.

“To make matters worse, they could be allowed to sell this “hot air” to other countries, further displacing real efforts to cut carbon pollution,” said Essop

“If countries gathered in Doha want this conference to deliver a tangible result for the global climate they need to cancel the carry-over of these surplus AAU’s. This could be the legacy from Doha or it could be remembered as a conference of political “hot air,” she added.
At the current rate Climate Savers companies overall emissions savings could exceed 350 million tonnes by 2020
© Rob Webster/WWF Enlarge

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