News / Africa

Kyoto Protocol's Future to Be Determined in Durban

The Kyoto Protocol sets binding reduction targets on greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide, but it expires next year.  That's why reaching a new agreement is a top priority for diplomats attending the annual United Nations-sponsored climate talks in Durban, South Africa beginning Monday.

The world's climate negotiators agree that they want to reduce emissions linked to climate change, but are having a hard time reaching consensus on the necessary steps.  

Alden Meyer, the director of climate strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, says the Kyoto Protocol is in jeopardy.

"The European Union has said they're willing to continue in Kyoto if there's a process launched to create a broader framework down the road that would include not only the United States but China and other major developing countries.  Japan, Canada and Russia have indicated already they don't want to stay in Kyoto beyond the end of next year when their current commitments expire.  So this'll be one of the major issues in Durban - what happens to Kyoto after 2012," Meyer said.

Only developed countries among nearly 200 parties that signed the Kyoto Protocol are bound by it to reduce emissions. That's based on the idea that they are largely responsible for the industrial activity that releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

But some developing nations are heavy polluters, too, says climate scientist Todd Sanford of the Union of Concerned Scientists.   

"If you still look at a per capita basis, the U.S. is still far ahead of everyone else.  But growth in India and China have really put the developing world past the developed world at this point in terms of total emissions," Sanford said.

The United States is committed to making voluntary cuts, U.S. negotiator Jonathan Pershing said earlier this year.

"As part of that commitment, we stand behind President Obama's pledge to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in a range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 as inscribed in the Cancun agreements [of 2010]," Pershing said.

The issue is international consensus, says Australian lawmaker Mark Dreyfus.

"I think it's hard to get 200, nearly 200, countries to agree and what we're finding is that a lot of countries are doing more domestically than perhaps they're prepared to agree to internationally," Dreyfus said.

Rachmat Witoelar is the Indonesian president's envoy for climate change.  "So we have to learn how to take and give, and Indonesia is trying to do so by voluntarily lowering our emissions," Witoelar said.

The United States, the world's second-largest carbon emitter, never ratified the Kyoto agreement, in part because it placed no limits on developing nations such as China, the world's chief polluter.  

U.S. President Barack Obama addressed that issue in Australia in mid-November.

"If we are taking a series of steps, then it's important that emerging economies like China and India are also part of the bargain.  It doesn't mean that they have to do exactly what we do.  We understand that in terms of per capita carbon emissions, they've got a long way to go before they catch up to us.  But it does mean that they've got to take seriously their responsibilities as well," he said.

No agreement now exists to extend or succeed the Kyoto international climate agreement.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid