UN climate talks
Diplomacy ahead of the UN climate conference in Durban augurs little progress
Sep 3rd 2011 | from the print edition
NEVER has the UN’s Kyoto protocol looked sorrier. In 2012 the five-year “commitment period” it brought into being—in which developed countries took on legally binding responsibilities to cut their industrial greenhouse-gas emissions against 1990 levels—will end. Already Japan, Russia and Canada have refused to repeat the exercise. America was never part of it. Of the important rich countries, only the Europeans, responsible for around 13% of global emissions, will consider a second go. If cutting global carbon emissions was its aim, the UN scheme has failed.
Yet it refuses to die. A UN climate conference will be held in Durban at the end of November, and the protocol’s future will dominate it. This was stressed in a recent statement from several powerful developing countries—Brazil, South Africa, India and China—who have formed a block called the “BASIC Group”. At a meeting in Brazil on August 26th-27th, “agreeing on the second commitment period” was apparently the main issue they discussed. It was hardly likely, they noted sharply, that a country would leave the Kyoto protocol because it wished to cut emissions faster.