Analysis: Beyond Kyoto Regime

Non Peer-reviewed Article

The 10th Conference of the Parties (COP-10) to the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The international community has so far established a set of international treaties as an international regime to cope with global climate change: the FCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. The former recognised anthropogenic climate change as an urgent global challenge. The latter set legally-binding GHG emissions reduction commitments for the developed countries. Russia's ratification will finally bring the 1997 Kyoto Protocol into force in February 2005 after years of struggles such as the US withdrawal. However, there are still many problems to be solved. One of them is the issue of "beyond Kyoto".

The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is the period 2008-2012. The content of future commitments after 2013 has not been specified at all yet, but discussion on it will start from 2005. Depending on the future commitments, therefore, there is a possibility that the existing commitments will be obscured. Given such circumstances, at COP-10 the European Union suggested holding a series of seminars on the post-Kyoto regime. However, the US, which has opposed the quantification of legally-binding reduction commitments, was against the European suggestion. The major developing countries such as China and India were also in opposition, with fears of imposition of legally-binding GHG emissions reduction commitments. They stressed that any emissions reduction commitments of developing countries should be clarified in advance as excluded from the seminar theme. After an overnight negotiation on the last day, it was finally agreed to hold a seminar in May 2005 without specialising the subject.

COP-10, which took time in terms of seminar organisation, shows the difficulty of international negotiation in the future. On the other hand the extension of the existing Protocol would not contribute emissions reduction on a global level since the percentage of the developed countries' GHG emissions subject to the Kyoto Protocol against the world’s total emissions will be reduced from 32% in 2010 to 29% in 2020. Therefore it will be crucial for the new terms of engagement with the US and the developing countries. It is widely said that COP-10 was not a great success. Given such difficulty in international negotiations, however, COP-10 was an important step to let each country engage in discussion on the beyond Kyoto regime.