Bonn delegates reach agreement on Kyoto Protocol, but some areas are watered down

Following discussions through the night, Ministers at the Bonn climate change talks reached an agreement on the Kyoto Protocol on Monday morning, 23 July, which includes the use of sinks, but excludes legally-binding penalties for countries not achieving targets on greenhouse emission reductions.

With the US out of the Protocol negotiations, fears that further countries might pull out meant that the so-called ‘Umbrella Group’ of more sceptical countries, consisting of Australia, Canada, Japan, Switzerland, New Zealand, Norway and Russia, were thought to have held the upper hand, forcing compromises particularly from the EU, China and the G77 group of developing nations. As a result, legally-binding penalties, opposed by both Japan and Russia were excluded from the agreement. Despite evidence that carbon sinks, such as forests and farmland are unreliable methods of sequestering the greenhouse gas, their use has been included in the agreement, but only where it is based on sound science. However, under Joint Implementation and the clean development mechanism, nuclear energy cannot be used to generate credits from investment projects.

Among the other agreements reached is a special climate change fund which will be established in order to finance activities, programmes and measures aimed at: climate change adaptation; technology transfer; and waste management; and activities to assist developing countries to diversify their economies. The fund will be paid for by 2% of credits from clean development mechanism projects. There is also to be a fund for the least developed countries. The Ministers have also agreed to establish an expert group on technology transfer, with 20 members, one of which will come from small island developing states, and three from Africa, Asia, Pacific and Latin America, and the Caribbean.

The delegates also agreed to consider the implementation of insurance-related actions which can be used to combat the adverse effects of climate change in both developing and developed nations.

“The operation to rescue the Kyoto Protocol has succeeded,” said Margot Wallström, European Commissioner for the Environment. “The EU made considerable concessions to get this deal but it was a worthwhile price to pay. This is a victory for the multilateral negotiating process. It signals to citizens all over the world that the international community is able and willing to tackle global problems together.”

“Now countries can finally move ahead and ratify the Protocol,” Wallström added. “The European Commission fully intends to present a proposal for EU ratification before the end of the year so that the process can be completed in 2002. I urge other signatories to do the same so that the international community brings the Protocol into force in time for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in September 2002.”

Although the US has pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol, the country was represented at the Bonn talks . Head of the US delegation, Paula Dobriansky, is reported to have been booed during her speech when she said that the “Bush administration takes the issue of climate change very seriously”.

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