Rescued or doomed

  • 30/08/2001

Rescued or doomed "I hear no objections, it is so decided,' Jan Pronk, president of the meeting, said in obvious relief as he brought down the gavel at the resumed session of the sixth conference of parties to the climate change convention. The meeting, held in Bonn from July 16-27, 2001, outlined details on how to implement the Kyoto Protocol, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas ( ghg ) emissions in industrialised countries. The protocol calls for a 5.2 per cent reduction of ghg emissions from 1990 levels by 2008-2012. This already weak target was further weakened by some of the decisions taken at Bonn. Despite this, the Bonn agreement was praised by some as a triumph of multilateralism over unilateralism.

The Bonn meeting can be described as an exercise in maintaining quorum for the Kyoto Protocol to come into effect. After the us rejected it in March 2001, the agreement seemed doomed. To come into force, it has to be ratified by industrialised countries responsible for at least 55 per cent of the total industrialised country emissions in 1990. The us accounts for 36 per cent. After it announced that it would not ratify, Russia, Japan, Canada and Australia were catapulted to a pivotal position. To come into effect without the us , the protocol needs Russia, which has a 17.4 per cent share in 1990 emissions. In addition, it needs ratification by either Japan, or Canada and Australia together.

Realising they had a key role to play, these countries used the situation to their advantage, demanding (and getting) huge concessions. The eu , which had pushed to ensure the environmental integrity of the protocol at the previous meeting held in The Hague in November 2000, softened its stand to keep the protocol alive and

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