The Legal Impasse: High Noon at the KP Corral

There are a number of puzzled-looking lawyers in the hallways in Tianjin right now, and ECO admits as well to being puzzled by the refusal of China and Brazil to allow the legal matters contact group to discuss elements set out in the KP chair’s scenario note this week.

It seems that since the beginning of time, developed countries have obstructed progress in the KP on the numbers discussion.  This may go some way to explaining the behaviour of some developing countries in the legal matters group.  However, this procedural dispute has now consumed every session of the contact group this week to the point where the KP chair was called in to intervene, to no avail.

Clearly China and Brazil are in favour of continuing the Kyoto Protocol.  So ECO is surprised at their opposition to a discussion of Option B, which includes number of important elements such as assessment and review, refinement of the compliance mechanism, and provisions for entry into force of amendments, among others.  Given how short the time is, these discussions are necessary to advance understanding of what the second commitment period will mean for Parties taking quantified emissions reduction commitments (QERCs). To do otherwise puts the future of the Protocol at risk.

In Wednesday’s stock-taking plenary, many developing countries strongly advocated for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.  And the EU, Australia, New Zealand and Norway have stated that they are prepared to take new commitments under Kyoto.  However, they indicated that they can only do so once they have a clear idea of what the rules will be for the second commitment period, including the matters that were to be considered by the legal contact group this week.

ECO strongly supports the need to reach agreement on these underlying issues so that agreement can be reached on QERCs.  At the same time, ECO cautions that loopholes the developed country Parties have tried to negotiate for themselves must be removed, so as to ensure the environmental integrity of the agreement and help close the gigatonne gap. 

ECO encourages all parties to the Protocol to take the advice of the KP chair when he was called to arbitrate the dispute: Parties should listen to each other’s proposals and get on with the negotiations.  We couldn’t agree more. We don’t want a gap between commitment periods, and the KP should not be held for ransom by anyone.

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