COP18 talks yield Kyoto extension, but also weaker global commitment to climate change

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After two long weeks of stumping for Mother Earth, environmental activists succeeded in getting 35 industrialized nations to renew the Kyoto Protocol for another eight years. That’s the good news.

The bad news, as many climate change delegates are pointing out, is that big greenhouse gas emitters like Russia, Japan and Canada have bowed out of the only legally binding treaty that compels countries to lower their industrial output.

That means the adherents who are now bound by the protocol – namely, Australia and several European countries – account for only 15 percent of global emissions.

The near-200 nations who attended the convention also agreed to table the other major sticking point that caused COP18 negotiations to run an extra day – the financing of poorer countries to help them cope with climate changes. That issue will be revisited at next year’s convention in Warsaw, Poland.

Mother Jones reports:

Brazilian Minister of Environment Izabella Teixeira summed up the outcome pretty well in her statement to the plenary session Saturday night:

“We are not fully satisfied with the outcome achieved. We wanted more. We believe more is needed. But we also believe that a Conference that ensured KP2 is, by definition, a success.”

But “success” was not the conclusion reached by many of the NGOs who attended COP18.

In a statement, Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International, said:

Today we ask the politicians in Doha: Which planet are you on? Clearly not the planet where people are dying from storms, floods and droughts. Nor the planet where renewable energy is growing rapidly and increasing constraints are being placed on the use of dirty fuels such as coal. The talks in Doha were always going to be a modest affair, but they failed to live up to even the historically low expectations.

Here are his comments to Al Jazeera, in which he calls the conclusion of the 15 days of talks “a betrayal.”

For its part, host and COP president Qatar expressed pride in helping the negotiating nations renew Kyoto, which was slated to expire at the end of this year.

COP18 reports:

Speaking at a press conference immediately after the final agreement was reached, Mr Al-Attiya said: “All of that happened here in Doha in the past two weeks. So it is absolutely something that I and many of my colleagues around this room feel extremely proud, to be part of the team that produced COP18/CMP8 Doha, and share part of that success going forward.”

So, who’s glad Qatar’s largest conference ever is finally over, and who’s sad to see it go?

Thoughts?

Credit: Photo by CGIAR Climate

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