With UN-backed climate change talks in Durban due to end on Friday, the world looks as divided as ever over whether the Kyoto Protocol has a future.
Canada’s Environment Minister Peter Kent said it is part of the past.
“We must be fair if we are to be effective and this is why, for Canada, the Kyoto Protocol is not where the solution lies,” he told the talks in South Africa. “It is an agreement that covers fewer than 30 percent of global emissions, by some estimates 15 percent, even less.”
China, which is not bound by Kyoto’s current targets, has suggested it may sign up to a legally binding deal.
The EU is open to joining an updated Kyoto Protocol but wants assurances that the world’s biggest emitters, including China, the US and India, will do the same.
EU sees climate progress from China
Jo Leinen, the head of the European Parliament delegation at the UN Climate Conference spoke to euronews from Durban.
Stefan Grobe, euronews: “Mr Leinen, yesterday you severely criticised China and the US for being the biggest obstacles to a Treaty, today there are reports saying China is finally moving. Is that so? Do you really see some progress, even in the light of the EU proposals?”
“For three Climate Conferences now, there has been this ping-pong match between China and the US, which blocks the whole process. Now it is China that seems to be ready to advance. But we still have to verify whether the Chinese want treaty obligations only for developed countries or for themselves and emerging countries as well. So, we’ll have to wait and see. But: China is indeed moving.”
euronews: “The other two major foot-draggers are the US and India, the two biggest democracies in the world. Why is it so complicated to convince them that an agreement is needed?”
“Well, there are big differences between India and the US. In the USA, it’s super-abundance, the “American Way of life” that many fear would be lost with an agreement. In India, there are 400 to 500 million people who fight for daily survival. There the government fears that economic development would be hampered by climate protection. So, we do have two very different approaches, but after all, both countries are democracies, and democracies need the support of the people. And this is something that the political classes both in the US and India cannot organise or do not want to organise.”
euronews: “The world economy is living through a grave crisis and the end is still not in sight. Many countries that must implement austerity programmes also want to cut back on climate protection spending. What do you tell them? How can economic development and climate protection be reconciled?”
“We have to nullify this antagonism and create a win-win situation. In any case, we have to save energy and we have to use resources more wisely. So, we should consider the current crisis as an opportunity and promote growth programmes and investments in low-carbon and energy-efficient projects, for example, in the construction sector, the transport sector, in energy generation and, of course, in energy consumption. The crisis should not be an excuse to be complacent about climate protection.”
euronews: “The next UN Climate Conference will take place in Qatar in 2012. What is your forecast? What can we expect until then — progress or a setback?”
“Well, the oil-exporting countries have traditionally been obstructionist. Here we have a group of countries that refuses to cooperate. But Qatar is a modern country, they will not only host the football World Cup, but also the UN Climate Conference. That’s why I believe that this Gulf state wants to prove to the world that they have managed the transition from the past to the future. We can only hope that with this conference in the Gulf region, this part of the world will get on board and that global climate protection will advance.”