New United Nations plan on how to implement Kyoto Protocol, even without the US onboard

The head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has issued a plan which may become the reality of an international agreement on implementing the Kyoto Protocol, without requiring United States’ participation.

Jan Pronk, head of the UNFCCC, the body responsible for preparing documents for international talks on implementing the Kyoto Protocol (Conference of the Parties), and also the Netherland’s environment minister has managed to produce a text removing ambiguities and obstacles which hindered previous plans in his Consolidated Negotiating Text, released on 11 June. Pronk has eliminated hundreds of contested options in the text with a single, coherent proposal and has offered new concessions to Japan and central and eastern European (CEE) countries, whose support for ratification alongside the European Union is vital, now that the United States has pulled out (see related story).

For the Kyoto Protocol to enter into force, 39 industrialised countries emitting 55 % of 1990’s levels of six greenhouse gases must ratify. Since the European Union alone with 15 current member states cannot achieve this, and the United States with 25% of global greenhouse gases will not ratify, the participation of Japan, Russia and the CEE nations is now crucial to enact the Protocol. Therefore, Pronk’s new text makes concessions to Japan allowing greater use of carbon ‘sinks’ to count towards greenhouse gas emission cuts. Japan had argued that it was allowed little use of ‘sinks’, the effectiveness of which has been recently cast into doubt (see related story), compared with larger, less densely populated nations. The Japanese environment ministry has now begun a PR campaign to publicise the Kyoto Protocol, in order to bring it to force by 2002.

Concessions have been made to Russia and CEE nations, such as Ukraine and Poland, over payments into the proposed ‘adaptation fund’ for the Protocol. Although all will still have to contribute to the fund, the ex-communist nations would now only have to pay half the rate of richer nations.

There is yet to be any reported reaction to the 178-page Text, but it will have to be discussed at the next informal meeting on the climate change negotiations in The Hague on 27-28 June. Then, global environment ministers will discuss how to reach agreement at the resumed sixth session of the Conference of the Parties, which will be held in Bonn during the period 16 – 27 July.

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