Cancun: Negotiators from China and Japan clashed over the Kyoto Protocol, highlighting the uncertain future of the only treaty that puts legally binding emission targets on industrialised nations.
Noting that some countries do not "like" the Kyoto Protocol, deputy head of China`s delegation, Huang Huikang said, "Now we are even more worried about the KP (Kyoto
Protocol)...they even want to kill the KP."
"There must be a continuation of the KP," he told reporters yesterday. "There must be a second commitment period."
Akira Yamada, a senior Japanese negotiator, responded by saying that Tokyo was not "killing the protocol" but reiterated that the treaty only dealt with 27 percent of the
global carbon emissions and it wasn`t equipped to combat climate change.
Noting that climate change was a problem for mankind, Yamada said reducing carbon emissions was the responsibility of both developing and developed countries.
"We should cooperate with each other not criticise each other," he said, pointing out that certain countries were only following the "differentiated" bit of the "common but
differentiated" mantra that guides climate change negotiations within the UN framework.
Earlier this week, Japan said it would not sign up to commitments under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol after its first commitment period expired in 2012.
"Japan will not inscribe its target under the Kyoto Protocol on any conditions or under any circumstances," its delegate, said in an open meeting of all the countries on
Describing all the "killing" talk as "propaganda", Yamada said Japan would not abandon Kyoto Protocol completely but will simply not take on more commitments under mitigation part of the treaty.
While developing countries including India want to extend the only treaty that binds industrialised nations to reduce carbon emissions, Japan and other countries are pushing for a treaty that includes legal obligations for emerging economies like China and India.
Yesterday, the ALBA group, which comprises of Latin American countries including Bolivia, Venezuela and Cuba, also expressed their concern on the future of Kyoto Protocol.
"If there is no second period of commitment, it would be very difficult to have balanced package in this negotiations," Claudia Salerno, the Venezuelan negotiator, said.
Under the first commitment period rich nations committed to cut emissions by an average 5 percent over 1990 levels. Japan and other developed countries have pointed out that China and US are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases.
Emerging economies like China and India insist that they are also sharing the burden of carbon emission reduction through domestic voluntary carbon reduction emissions.
Since US never signed the Kyoto Protocol, it does not have obligations to reduce emissions in the second commitment period, which is another objection Japan has with the treaty.
Noting that US was not part of the tussle, its climate change envoy, Todd Stern said, "I hope a way can be found that both sides could live with a compromise...but I do think it
would be very unfortunate to lose the progress that is there to be reached if we can do it on the LCA (Long Term Cooperative Action) side."
Emission reductions are also being discussed under another track called the Long Term Cooperative Action, which is expected to include mandatory cuts for US as well as other
responsibilities for developing countries.
On the whole, diplomats have indicated that very little progress can be expected on spelling out mitigation targets at Cancun, and will have to be left for the next annual climate meet in Durban, South Africa.
"Climate change maybe becoming a economic issue but for LDCs (Least Developed Countries) it is really an issue of survival," said Bruno Sekoli, chief of the LDCs group.
"If you delay mitigation, the cost of adaptation becomes more expensive," he said.