CANCUN (Mexico), Dec 7: In the second week of the UN climate negotiations here, the biggest challenge for developing countries is to ensure the survival of the Kyoto Protocol. It is currently in danger of being pushed aside by developed countries to make way for a voluntary pledge-based system. Last week, rich countries attempted to lay the groundwork for the eventual dissolution of the Kyoto Protocol. They wanted to operationalise key aspects of the US-backed Copenhagen Accord, which has weak mitigation targets and avoid the Kyoto Protocol’s process for establishing legally binding science-based, aggregate emissions targets for developed countries.
According to the NGO Friends of the Earth, “We can still prevent catastrophic climate change. But rich countries, who are responsible for the problem must stop blocking the strong, just policies that are needed. We must set an aggregate target under the Kyoto Protocol whereby rich countries reduce emissions by at least 40 per cent.” Developing countries are putting up a good fight to make sure that there is second commitment period to the protocol. At a press conference held yesterday, Brazil, South Africa, India and China (called the BASIC group) announced that the “Kyoto Protocol was non-negotiable”. In fact, there are fears that the entire process here in Cancun can unravel over the Kyoto Protocol.
The 1997 Kyoto treaty established the global carbon market, allowing credits from clean energy in the developing world to be sold to offset emissions in the West. But the targets set by the treaty are due to expire in 2012 – and Copenhagen did not renew them. It means investors don’t know whether or how they will be able to sell “credits” from clean energy projects in the future under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
According to Shafqat Kakakhel, a member of the Pakistani delegation who is serving on the Executive Board of the CDM that is also meet ing here in Cancun, “without the Kyoto Protocol there would be no CDM. But there is a widespread consensus here that no one wants to see it die – everyone recognises the need for the continuation of the CDM beyond 2012”.The CDM projects result in net reduction of emissions amounting to 2.4 billion tons of carbon and provide incentive for clean investments and transfer of technology to developing countries.
In case the Kyoto Protocol does collapse, then the CDM Board will push for the adaptation of an alternative called “the flexible mechanism”. For now, however, they are waiting to see what happens. “The problem is that the Americans just don’t recognise the Kyoto Protocol,” explained Mr Kakakhel. Pakistan has 10 registered projects under the CDM, the most successful of which is the Pak-Arab Fertiliser plant in Multan that is using nitric acid to generate power. For this they are earning 3 million dollars a year in carbon credits.
There is also the Lahore Compost project which coverts household waste supplied by the city of Lahore and can easily be replicated in all the large cities of Pakistan. “There is tremendous potential in Pakistan – especially in hydro-power. We can set up more than a hundred plants in Kaghan, Azad Kashmir and GilgitBaltistan.”