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Doha talks hope to agree follow-up to Kyoto emissions deal

The Kyoto protocol – the only binding international deal on emissions – begins to expire this year, with no successor in place.

Conference flags are displayed ahead of the Doha Climate Change Conference, in Doha, Qatar.
Conference flags are displayed ahead of the Doha Climate Change Conference, in Doha, Qatar.
Image: Osama Faisal/AP

AN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE is beginning in Doha, Qatar today – with hopes that the summit could see progression on a deal to replace the only binding treaty on international emissions which will begin to expire this year.

The 2012 UN Climate Change Conference will aim to see agreement on a deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which was agreed in 1997 and came into effect in 2005.

The Kyoto Protocol, as an attachment to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, is the only legally enforceable agreement on international carbon emissions – but its first round of emissions limits will expire at the end of this year.

No replacement deal has yet been agreed – with little progress on a new deal at previous UN summits in Bali, Poznan, Copenhagen, Mexico and Johannesburg.

Delegates hope that this year’s conference may provide more concrete progress, however, with Canada having withdrawn from Kyoto at the end of last year and with the United States – the highest-profile non-signatory – having borne the brunt of several climate-related disasters since Kyoto was agreed.

Delegates hope to work out a 36-month programme to arrive at a new, global climate deal that must enter into force by 2020, when the last of Kyoto’s provisions expire.

Opening the conference, South African foreign minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said climate change was the world’s “most serious sustainable environment challenge” and that politicians need to act now.

Negotiators at the conference, which will continue for the next two weeks, will be joined by cabinet ministers from over 100 countries for the last days of the summit.

Oxfam has likened the expiry of the 2012 targets as being “a climate ‘fiscal cliff’”, with no certainty about the funding that could be provided by developed countries on how to adapt to climate change.

Read: Report says climate change impacting negatively on human health

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Gavan Reilly

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