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UN Climate Change Conference should offer replacement for Kyoto Protocol — Kremlin

December 01, 2014, 9:37 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The role of the conference which opens in Lima, Peru on Monday is extremely high, head of the Russian delegation, the president’s aide and his envoy on climate matters Alexander Bedritsky says
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© EPA Archive/OLIVER BERG

MOSCOW, December 1. /TASS/. The United Nations Climate Change Conference, which opens in Lima, Peru on Monday will be complicated, but most likely it will approach a major goal of offering a new international agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, head of the Russian delegation, the president’s aide and his envoy on climate matters Alexander Bedritsky said in an interview with TASS.

“Unfortunately, countries have many controversies, but the forecast is rather optimistic,” he said. Participants in discussions have spent over ten years to structure positions, to search for acceptable solutions, which are most important not only for settlement of ecology problems, but also for “realistic competition among the economies, which are using nature-friendly technologies,” he said. A negative result in Lima would be considered equal to acknowledgement of “the society is good-for-nothing.”

The conference in Lima will be the 20th event since the UN ratified the convention on the climate change.

“Its role is extremely high, as in 2015, at the 21st Conference in Paris we are expecting a new international agreement, which will unite international efforts to ease the burden on the climate system and which will replace the Kyoto Protocol.”

The Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol’s term expires in 2020. Easier burden on the climate system means cutting on emissions of the so-called greenhouse gases, which make the effect of greenhouse in the atmosphere, thus raising the average global temperatures.

“If emissions of greenhouse gases are not cut and if growth of the global temperatures are not prevented to two degrees from the pre-industrial period — and now the temperature is almost one degree higher — changes in the ecology system, in the biosphere will be of irreversible character,” the expert said. Changes of the kind include higher level of the World Ocean due to melting glaciers, including in Greenland and the Antarctic; redistribution of precipitations; spread of deserts.

“We have come rather close to entering a new agreement, thus the Conference in Lima should agree on the approaches to the document,” he said. In that case before summer of next year a draft agreement will be ready for use in discussions. “A draft should be ready six months prior to adoption, otherwise the countries would not be able to sign the final version in Paris.”

As of now, there is a compelled document, which is not a draft agreement, but which outlines positions of the parties involved.

For example, one of the items is devoted to responsibilities for emissions. At the time of adopting the Kyoto Protocol, the influence of developing countries on the climate was minimal, thus the document fixed the approach of differentiated responsibility, where developed countries undertook obligations to cut emissions and to support the developing countries. However, over past 15 years those were the developing countries, which were responsible for most emissions. Take, for example, China, India or Brazil. “Now, we should have terms and approaches, which would be binding for all,” the Russian expert said.

Russia's position

At the forum in Lima, Russia will insist the agreement also covered registration of forest resources — both in the middle latitudes and in the tropical latitudes.

“Russia has many forests of the kinds, which, if the care is good, are absorbing carbons,” he said. “As yet, this question has been omitted, and discussions are only around tropical forests, though the role of tropical forests in control of the greenhouse effect is much lower than of the middle-latitudes forests.”

“We shall insist the agreement’s approaches offered a universal registration of forests.”

The presidential aide said “the obstacle” in work on a draft agreement is now the Green Climate Fund, in which the developed countries had decided to invest up to $100 billion a year. “As things stand now, the cost of the entire not investments, but political claims is only slightly over $9 billion.”

“Russia does not have obligations to invest in the Green Climate Fund, but it is ready to support it.” Moscow is focused first of all on assisting the CIS countries — using the Fund or under bilateral agreements.

The head of the Russian delegation said for Russia it is most important a draft agreement contained a mechanism of “taking decisions, which offered compromises.”

“Over 20 years of the UN Climate Change Conference, procedures of taking decisions have not been adopted, and the rules the countries use have been breached more and more often, and besides very badly.”

Perspectives of the agreement

The Russian expert said the future agreement should reflect use of market mechanisms, involving businesses to settlement of climate-related problems.

“But here everything should be transparent, and everything should be done in compliance with the UN regulations.”

Another topic to be discussed in Lima should be the dividing of countries into developed and developing.

“In 1991-1992, members of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) were put on the developed countries’ list, but since then the Organization’s new members are ten countries, like Mexico, Israel, South Korea, Chile, though they are supposed to be developing,” head of the Russian delegation said. Russia’s position is the agreement should offer reviewing the list of countries, and this suggestion is shared also by other countries, including the US.

The Russian representative hopes the climate forum will be able to reach compromises despite of many controversies. At the same time, though, he fears the new agreement replacing the Kyoto Protocol, following the position of the US, will be “rather general,” and all actual problems will not be included in it, thus causing “endless discussions” about them.

“This is not crucial for Russia, but approach of the kind, of course, will lower potential of the international efforts in fighting the climate change,” he said regretfully.

The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which commits its Parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. The detailed rules for the implementation of the Protocol were adopted at COP 7 in Marrakesh, Morocco, in 2001.

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