Bloomberg News

UN May Extend Kyoto Pact Without Canada, Japan, Russia

October 13, 2011

(Corrects story that originally ran Oct. 11 to change country in third paragraph to Japan.)

Oct. 11 (Bloomberg) -- United Nations emission-reduction negotiators in Durban, South Africa, next month may seek to extend the Kyoto Protocol, excluding Canada, Japan and Russia, said Christiana Figueres, the UN’s top climate diplomat.

The European Union’s conditional willingness to extend “has been exceedingly helpful by building a bridge” between developed and developing nations, Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Convention on Climate Change, said yesterday in London.

Government envoys will gather in Durban in November to work out a way to extend or replace Kyoto, a treaty capping greenhouse gases whose targets lapse in 2012. Canada, Japan and Russia have all said they won’t accept new binding targets under Kyoto unless all major economies are bound.

An extended Kyoto would be different from the existing agreement, Figueres said at a seminar held by the Carbon Markets & Investors Association, a lobby group, and DLA Piper LLP, a Chicago-based law firm. “For a start we will have three countries less,” she said.

Any extension of Kyoto would still require agreement from about 200 nations at the talks, which would be a challenge to negotiate, Figueres said in an interview after her speech. “Nothing is easy to get. Nothing is impossible.”

Speaking later in a panel at Chatham House in London, Figueres said governments are now exploring the possibility of drafting a “declaration of intent” in Durban to spell out a plan to move toward a new climate agreement that would be binding to all nations. She declined to say when a deadline for reaching such an agreement might be.

‘Huge Step Forward’

“The fact that even the idea is being considered is already a huge step forward,” Figueres said. “This idea was not being considered at the beginning of the year.”

Figueres said the “list is long” of conditions needed to achieve an agreement.

“Number one, number two, number three and number four is the United States has to assume its responsibility,” she said. “There’s no way we can continue with the United States not being able to move on what the executive power in the U.S. already has on the table,” she said, referring to President Barack Obama’s stated goal of slashing American emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels in 2020, which Congress has yet to legislate for.

The fifth priority is for China, the largest emitter, to say when it expects its CO2 output to stop rising, she said.

Talks at Impasse

A global treaty can’t be achieved in Durban, envoys from the U.S. and European Commission said last week. Talks are at an impasse over which nations should take on binding targets to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions linked to the earth’s warming, Jonathan Pershing, the U.S. deputy special envoy for climate change, said Oct. 7 said in Panama City.

The EU said it will extend the accord only if all major economies including the U.S. agree to be part of a separate legally enforceable treaty, according to Pershing. The U.S. rejects the current UN system, which pools major economies such as China, India and Brazil with smaller developing nations in a group that has fewer commitments than developed countries.

--With assistance from Jim Efstathiou Jr. in New York. Editor: Rachel Graham

To contact the reporter on this story: Mathew Carr in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at

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