AAUs: Don’t Let ‘Hot Air’ Go Stale

‘Hot air’ (surplus AAUs) must be properly addressed in Durban. This is perhaps one of the most important points on which agreement needs to be reached for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.  The total amount of AAUs is around 7.5-10 Gt CO2e – in other words, roughly one-third of the current 2020 emissions reduction targets pledged by Annex I countries.  This ‘hot air’ was created not because of effective climate policies but rather the economic crisis of the 1990s.

The biggest holders of surplus AAUs are Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and EU members from Central and Eastern Europe. Insisting that the full AAU surplus carries over to the second commitment period makes already weak pledges from developed countries even weaker.

Parties have several choices how to deal with this, from  full carry-over to full restrictions. Dear delegates – don’t let this hot air go stale! It’s easy: ECO calls on Parties holding surplus AAUs to simply retire their ‘hot air’ by the end of 2012.  If Parties are getting cold merely thinking about their hot-airless future, a very limited carry-over of surplus to the second commitment period may offer a cozier solution.

To make sure these hot gases don’t foul our future, just a few small things are needed.  Any additions to AAUs for the second commitment period have to be limited to 1%. Surplus-holding countries must commit to climate-friendly investment of revenues through transparent and internationally monitored Green Investment Schemes (GIS) which are subject to MRV, and/or to funds supporting climate actions in developing countries. Last but not least, AAUs cannot be used for compliance in domestic cap and trade systems in Annex I countries.