The failure of the CoP 15 in Copenhagen to produce a comprehensive and legally binding agreement with commitment targets like those in the Kyoto Protocol has been labelled a “necessary evil for a new beginning”. Professor Prins of the London School of Economics presented this theory at the CoP 16 in Cancun on Dec. 8th.
“We need to change the terms of the conversation,” stated Prof. Prins. Since the beginning of the negotiations in Cancun, Japan and Russia have provided strong opposition to the negotiations of a new emissions reduction commitment period. Instead, they have been pushing for a new and better mechanism: one based on human dignity, and not on human sinfulness.
This new mechanism includes three objectives, as described in the Hartwell Paper: a new direction for climate policy, co-authored by Prof. Prins:
- Access: allowing people access to energy
- Sustainability: eradicating emissions of black carbon, reducing tropospheric ozone, protecting tropical forests, and accelerating energy efficiency.
- Resilience: making poor nations able to combat climate change.
This road-map for a new, post-Kyoto mechanism is strongly supported by the Japanese negotiators at CoP 16. Yet, in the negotiations with the global leader in the fight against climate change, the European Union, Japan has had to face the option of compromising.
Joke Schauvliege, the Belgian Minister for Environment, Nature and Culture and representative of the current Presidency of the Council of the EU stated on Dec 10th that “We had a lot of contact with the Japanese and the Russians, and we tried to find solutions”. She elaborated that “Kyoto as such is not enough” and that “it is possible to find something in between”.
This was supplemented by EU Commissioner Hedegaard’s concerns that a comprehensive legally-binding agreement rests on a new Kyoto Protocol or similar mechanism. She stated clearly that it is “not likely to get a second commitment period”. Yet, as the final day of negotiations began, all parties were “excited” to find out what is in the agreement to come out of Cancun.