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UN Climate Envoys Consider 2-Year Deadline for Curbing Carbon
2010-12-06 05:41:00.482 GMT
By Mathew Carr and Kim Chipman
Dec. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Diplomats at United Nations climate
talks this week will consider a two-year deadline for industrial
nations to sign up for further cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions
after Kyoto Protocol limits expire in December 2012.
Brazil, named by the UN to help broker an agreement on the
future of Kyoto, wants industrial nations at this meeting to
agree to make new reduction pledges within two years. Mexico,
which is coordinating the discussions in Cancun, said the
pledges would have to be in place in the first half of 2012.
Adopting the measures may help bolster the price of
carbon dioxide emissions permits, which tumbled after talks in
Copenhagen in December 2009 failed to produce a new treaty on
reducing fossil fuel pollution blamed for global warming.
The envoys "need to send the right signal to the carbon
market," Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado, Brazil's lead
negotiator, said in an interview in Cancun. "How this signal
will be sent is perhaps the crux of the problem."
In the past year, Certified Emission Reduction credits for
2012 dropped 19 percent to close at 11.17 euros ($14.95) a
metric ton on Dec. 3. Equivalent European Union allowances
dropped 5.6 percent to 15.47 euros. Factories and power stations
would clean up smokestacks only if prices reach 30 euros a ton,
EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said in May.
"Hopefully the process is cut down to one year," said
Dirk Forrister, a consultant who was formerly head of U.S.
President Bill Clinton's 1997 taskforce on climate. "If it
takes two it's going to start to make people fret," he said in
an interview in Cancun.
A dispute over how to assure the future of the Kyoto treaty
after it expires marred the first of two weeks of talks in the
Japan, Russia and Canada refused to accept a second round
of emissions pledges without developing nations joining in the
program. China, India and Brazil said such cuts from rich
countries were essential to keep the 18-year old talks alive.
The UN has lowered its ambitions for this year, putting off
work on a new legally-binding agreement to replace the Kyoto
accord negotiated in 1997. Instead, it's shooting for a package
of measures that would protect forests, verify emissions cuts
and channel up to $100 billion a year into aid for poor nations
struggling to cope with climate change.
Developing countries aren't comfortable that the rich
nations are doing what they've already promised to pare carbon
emissions, Figueiredo said. What's needed to protect carbon
markets, he said, is "program of work, with dates -- shorter
than two years" that give assurance that Kyoto's limits will
"We don't need to have a decision of amending Kyoto at
this conference," Juan Manuel Gomez, a negotiator for Mexico,
said at a briefing. "At the latest, it has to be done six
months before that period expires."
The 1997 Kyoto treaty required industrial nations to cut
emissions during a period that ends in December 2012. Yesterday,
the UN asked Brazil and the U.K. to help defuse the dispute
about Kyoto's future, which China and India said threatens
progress in other areas of the talks.
"A two-year timetable is more realistic than one," said
Mauricio Bermudez-Neubauer, lead consultant on carbon markets at
Accenture, which is advising the Mexican government on climate
change. "There is still so much to do."
While Kyoto's limits were legally binding on the countries
that ratified it, the U.S. never joined the program, and
developing nations had no requirement to make reductions. When
last year's talks in Copenhagen failed to produce a treaty, the
U.S., European Union and China adopted a voluntary package of
cuts outside the UN process. The EU wants to bring those under
the UN umbrella.
Christiana Figueres, the UN envoy leading the talks, said
this meeting won't solve the disputes over Kyoto and that after
the talks in Copenhagen collapsed last year the goal is to
rebuild the credibility of the process.
"Cancun will not guarantee a second commitment period, but
it will not kill the hopes of a second commitment period,"
Figueres said in a speech on Dec. 4. "We need to build the
foundation, the basement upon which we will then continue. This
is absolutely a minimus agreement" that "is going to be
frankly pathetically insufficient. We are just barely, barely
scratching the surface of what we need to do."
A UN document published Dec. 4 outlining possible goals for
the Cancun meeting didn't include ways to create demand for
carbon credits. The text includes three options for raising
rich-nation targets and four ways to spur actions by developing
The rich-nation targets in the Kyoto negotiation text range
from 15 percent below 1990 levels in 2020 to 50 percent below by
2017, according the document posted on the website of the United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The EU wants firmer targets drawn up in a process that
would start at the end of this week's talks.
If Cancun brings transparency and quick implementation of
UN carbon market regulations, "then this could be very
encouraging for the carbon market," said Steve Abrams, head of
implementation at JPMorgan Chase & Co's EcoSecurities unit,
which develops emission-reduction projects.
For Related News and Information:
Emission trading stories: TNI ENVMARKET CLIMATE <GO>
Top environment and renewable energy stories: GREEN <GO>
Stories about the climate talks: NSE CLIMATE CANCUN <GO>
Locations of global energy facilities: BMAP <GO>
--With additional assistance from Carlos Rodriguez in Cancun.
Editors: Reed Landberg, Amit Prakash, Peter Langan.
To contact the reporter on this story:
Mathew Carr in Cancun, Mexico at +44-20-7073-3531 or
Kim Chipman in Cancun, Mexico at +1-202-624-1927 or
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Reed Landberg at +44-20-7330-7862 or