After Durban, what Legal Form for the Future International Climate Regime?

The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is due to expire at the end of 2012, but no commitments have been adopted to date for a second period. Discussions about the fate of the climate regime beyond 2012 were supposed to end in 2009, in order to avoid a gap between the first and second commitment periods. But neither the Copenhagen climate summit (2009), nor the Cancun conference (2010) resulted in conclusion of a deal. They did not yield answer about the divisive issues of legal form and architecture of the future international climate regime. The Durban Conference (2011) no longer was able to avoid addressing these thorny issues. At the very end of the summit, a compromise was reached following long and difficult negotiations. Parties decided to extend the Kyoto Protocol through a second commitment period and launch a new round of negotiations under the Convention in order to adopt a more inclusive and ambitious international climate regime to be implemented from 2020.

More than ever, scientific reports stress the urgent need to take action against climate change. Achievement of the “ultimate objective” of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which – pursuant to Article 2 – is the “stabilization of greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”, now seems almost impossible to reach. Indeed, business as usual scenarios show an increase in GHG emissions that will lead to an increase of temperature of about 6 °C before the end of the century.
The Kyoto Protocol was a first step through which industrialized countries committed to reduce their GHG emissions up to 5.2 % compared to their levels in 1990. With a limited participation following the withdrawal of the Unites States in March 2001, the Kyoto Protocol is not ambitious enough in view of the drastic cuts in global emissions recommended by scientific reports, whereas some of its provisions have been regarded as loopholes undermining its environmental integrity. The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is due to expire at the end of 2012, but no commitments have been taken for a second period so far. Talks about the post-2012 period were launched in 2005 by the first Meeting of Parties, just after the entry into force of the Protocol. In 2007, at the Bali conference, Parties opened a second parallel track of negotiations, this time under the Framework Convention, with the intention of designing a more inclusive agreement engaging all major emitters to cut their GHG emissions. Negotiations were supposed to end in 2009, in order to avoid a gap between the first and second commitment periods. But neither the Copenhagen conference (2009), which gave birth to a political “Accord” that the Conference of Parties refused to endorse, nor the Cancun conference (2010), which built on the Copenhagen Accord and reintegrates its content under the Convention, could finalize the deal. Among others things, they did not yield an answer on the divisive issues of legal form and architecture of the future international climate regime.



Copyright: © Lexxion Verlagsgesellschaft mbH
Quelle: Issue 3/2012 (September 2012)
Seiten: 10
Preis inkl. MwSt.: € 41,65
Autor: Dr Sandrine Maljean-Dubois
Matthieu Wemaëre

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