UN agrees to extend Kyoto Protocol

Posted on 11 December 2012  | 
Delegates attending United Nations climate talks in Qatar have agreed to extend the Kyoto Protocol until 2020.The Doha climate talks have closed with a historic shift in principle but few genuine cuts in greenhouse gases.UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon described the outcome as a first step but says governments must do "far more" to stop rising temperatures.The deal, agreed to by nearly 200 nations, keeps the protocol as the only legally binding plan for combating global warming.Critics say a better agreement is needed because the current one only covers developed nations whose share of world greenhouse gas emissions is less than 15 per cent.The meeting established for the first time that rich countries should move towards compensating poor countries for losses due to climate change.Developing nations hailed it as a breakthrough, but condemned the gulf between the science of climate change and political attempts to tackle it.The new pact concluded 12 days of tough haggling in Doha and comes after several days of deadlocked talks.The talks, scheduled to have closed on Friday, ran a whole day into extra time, paralysed as rich and poor nations faced off on issues including finance and compensation for climate damage.An extension of Kyoto was finally approved with the 27-member European Union, Australia, Switzerland and eight other industrialised nations signing up for binding emission cuts by 2020.Conference chairman Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah finally rushed through the package of deals, which he termed the Doha Climate Gateway, riding roughshod over country objections as he swung the gavel in quick succession proclaiming: "It is so decided."Observers said Russia had been trying to halt the extension of Kyoto, whose first leg expires on December 31.Moscow objected to the passing of the deal, and noted that it retained the right to appeal the president's action.
The protocol locks in only developed nations, excluding major developing polluters such as China and India, as well as the United States which refuses to ratify it.One of the key disputes in Doha was "hot air," the name given to greenhouse gas emission quotas that countries were given under the first leg of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and did not use - about 13 billion tonnes in total.The package also includes agreement to scale up funding to help poor countries deal with global warming and convert to planet-friendlier energy sources.This had been a key area of dispute, with developed nations under pressure to show how they intend to keep a promise to raise climate funding for poorer nations to $US100 billion per year by 2020 - up from a total of $US30 billion in 2010-2012.

The new pact concluded 12 days of tough haggling in Doha and comes after several days of deadlocked talks.
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