Celebrate 20th anniversary of Kyoto Protocol with second commitment period, say developing countries

Although some five years have elapsed since the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol was adopted, it has yet to come into force as a result of the failure of many of the developed countries to ratify it. In a bid to inject a sense of urgency in the matter, developing countries held a press conference on the sidelines of the Bonn conference to urge the developed countries to ratify the document without any further delay.

Jade Chiang

THE climate talks in Bonn could be a historic moment if Parties were able to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol (KP) by ensuring the entry into force of its second commitment period (2CP), said developing countries at a press conference organised by the Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) along the sidelines of COP 23 on 9 November.

Walter Schuldt (Ecuador), Chair of the Group of 77 and China, representing 134 developing countries, said, 'We are celebrating the second anniversary of the Paris Agreement adoption but we are really looking forward to the stronger celebration of the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the KP with the implementation of its second commitment period.'

'All we are asking is to bring this sense of urgency to be translated into concrete actions in the pre-2020 time frame,' said Schuldt.

He emphasised the need for urgency on ambition, and reiterated solidarity with and sympathy for victims of recent extreme weather events.

Schuldt also noted that the request to have the pre-2020 matter included in the COP 23 agenda was not a new proposal as there was a strong linkage to the Bali Action Plan (adopted in 2007), adding that 'we are here to support the Fijian Presidency' and that 'we are all in the same canoe'.

'We recognise there are many gaps in terms of mitigation and financial support that developed countries need to address,' he stressed.

Apart from the G77 and China Chair, other members of the LMDC also spoke at the media conference and echoed similar sentiments on the need to show urgency in addressing the ambition gap in both mitigation and finance.

Majid Shafiepour (Iran), the spokesperson of the LMDC who facilitated the event, said that the LMDC, which represented 50% of the world population, had called for the inclusion of an agenda item at COP 23 which sought more ambitious and accelerated climate action in the pre-2020 period. He added that the LMDC was trying to keep the dialogue on pre-2020 actions alive and noted the urgency to take stock of progress of the 'unfinished business' that remained.

(At that stage of COP 23, the LMDC proposal for the inclusion of the pre-2020 agenda item could not be realised due to objections from developed countries including the United States and the European Union.)

Paul Oquist, Minister-Private Secretary for National Policies of the Nicaraguan Presidency, said the pre-2020 item was surprisingly dropped from the agenda of COP 23 after many years of working on it.

'At Durban and Doha, we issued blank cheques with no amount [on the level of emissions reductions under the 2CP] and no date [on the duration of the commitment period],' he recalled, in reference to decisions adopted at COP 17 (2011) and COP 18 (2012) that launched the work which paved the way for negotiations on the post-2020 time frame that resulted in the PA and the Doha Amendment that anchored the 2CP of the KP.

(The Doha Amendment recognised the need for Parties to deposit their instrument of acceptance of the 2CP without delay in order to ensure the prompt entry into force of the amendment to the KP, and also decided that developed-country Parties would revisit their respective quantified emission limitation and reduction commitments for the 2CP at the latest by 2014 and increase that to at least 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020.)

'Five years after Doha, the ratification of the 2CP has not been fulfilled. It is, therefore, incomprehensible to talk about post-2020 when the developed-country Parties failed to comply with their commitment,' lamented the Nicaraguan Minister.

He said further that the 2CP is in 'the intensive care unit'.

'As a consequence, the message of COP 23 would be that it does not see the urgency, and that flies in the face of the climate realities and science is thrown overboard,' added Oquist as he listed a string of extreme weather events in the Latin American region.

He also pointed out that many scientific analyses are warning that 'if we do not get our act together' by 2020 by cutting emissions drastically now for a 66% chance of keeping temperature rise to 2oC by 2100 and 50% chance of staying below 1.5oC, 'we can forget' about the 2oC or 1.5oC limit. He said the technology and capital exist but what is lacking is the political will.

Arun Kumar Mehta, Additional Secretary of the Indian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, said that 'there cannot be argument that between now and 2020 is not important. [Honouring] pre-2020 commitment is to build trust and all Parties have to move together ... Delaying actions will not benefit anyone'.

Referring to paragraphs 3 and 4 of decision 1/CP.19 adopted at COP 19 in Warsaw (2013) - in which developed countries are supposed to provide support and undertake the highest possible mitigation efforts to enhance ambition in the pre-2020 period, including the entry into force of the 2CP - Ravi Prasad of the Indian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change said that developing countries made a humble request to bring on the table the follow-up actions of those decisions.

He further pointed out that there was no space among the many agenda items to discuss these past decisions and how Parties had (or had not) honoured them.

Prasad said that timelines could be proposed in May or June 2018 for the ratification of the Doha Amendment to ensure the coming into force of the 2CP and for submissions from all developed-country Parties indicating the actions they have taken on paragraphs 3 and 4 of decision 1/CP.19.

'If we see this forward movement, there will be clarity, trust and commitment to take these actions forward. We hope we can take this decision at this COP to ensure that trust in this multilateral process continues and we are on track to bridge this ambition gap and be on track for post-2020 actions,' he emphasised.

Chen Zhihua, Director of the Department of Climate Change of the National Development and Reform Commission of China, underscored the importance of the pre-2020 actions not only for the LMDC but for all developing countries. He said all developing countries were very firm on this matter because they felt there is still a very big gap not just on actions but also on support.

'The Paris Agreement already entered into force but it has been five years since the adoption of the Doha Amendment and we only have two years left to 2020. We want to highlight that this year is the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the KP and the best way to commemorate it is to put the 2CP into effect ... that will be the historical moment,' said Chen.

'The other action is to put in place a mechanism to realise the revisit mechanism of Doha and Warsaw with regard to enhancing ambition [of developed countries]. It is clear that the developed countries need to examine their commitment on the mitigation targets and explore ways to close the gap,' he added.

He said Parties were busy negotiating the modalities, procedures and guidelines of the Paris Agreement but the agreement was to be implemented after 2020. It was more urgent to take action now, he stressed.

'If we do not respect the decisions [taken in the past], how do we trust the process and lay good foundation for the implementation of the Paris Agreement?' he asked.

The media conference was well attended, with many journalists and civil society representatives present, and was beamed live around the conference centre.                            

*Third World Resurgence No. 326/327, October/November 2017, pp 24-25