The Climate Institute reports back on progress as UN climate negotiations enter their final days Media Release

Dec 07, 2011 - 3:01pm

An agreement is in the making.

This would involve important progress on policy issues such as enhancing the transparency of country actions and a new system of capturing the commitments that better reflects a world that has increased action to reduce pollution and drive clean energy investment. It would also involve an outcome on the Kyoto Protocol and a process to take discussions forward under the Convention.

The spectrum of options for the Kyoto Protocol and the legal nature of the future agreement are outlined in Table 2 (download Daily Summaries attached).

Pressure remains on the European Union and Australia to take on a process to develop new targets under the Kyoto Protocol. There remains a risk that an exclusive focus on, or a failure to resolve questions on Kyoto will poison progress in other areas.

This is particularly pointy for Australia as many in Durban clearly remember Australia’s original withdrawal from the Protocol under the Howard Government.

That said, Australia and the EU are correct in using the potential of new Kyoto targets to maximise their leverage in achieving progress on capturing the commitments in the Cancun Agreements placed under binding international law.

Regardless of the outcome on the legal nature of the future agreements, while current domestic actions are significant they are insufficient. Australia should continue to play an important role in supporting international processes designed to put pressure on countries to increase the ambition of their targets. These include supporting a robust process for the agreed 2014-15 review of global ambition and processes to clarify targets and place them under international scrutiny.

Table 2: Current range of possible outcomes on key political issues in Durban.
Broad country positions in Brackets. The table has been organised to reflect the linked nature of decisions on the Kyoto Protocol and the Convention. For example, a stronger mandate to negotiate a new Protocol under the Convention increases the likelihood of a stronger mandate under Kyoto and vice versa. Note that while the USA supports a legally binding agreement its conditions for agreement currently block its implementation by default. Note that in a number of places the table refers to ‘Decisions’. Decisions are the currency of international law. While they are not legally binding they are analogous to regulations under our domestic legislation.

Table 2

The Climate Institute's Deputy CEO Erwin Jackson is available for interview as the UN climate change negotiations come to a conclusion in the next few days in Durban, South Africa. Erwin has been an independent observer of the UN negotiations for the past 20 years and offers an impartial, informed understanding of the process and outcomes that will continue to drive domestic policy in all countries, including Australia.  If you would like to schedule an interview, please email info@climateinstitute.org.au to arrange a time.

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