29 november 2012

EU still split on credits as Doha talks begin

By Dave Keating, European Voice

No agreement on surplus emissions credits.

With the high-level international climate talks set to begin in Doha,
Qatar on Monday (3 December), the EU has still not agreed a common
negotiating position on the sensitive subject of whether tradeable
emissions allowances should be carried over to the next period of the
Kyoto Protocol.

The Doha summit, organised by the United Nations, started this week (26
November) with delegation meetings aimed at ironing out the tricky
details before diplomats and world leaders arrive next week. But over
the first three days no agreement has been found on the surplus
credits, called AAUs. There is concern that the issue could derail the
entire summit if the issue is not resolved soon.

Poland, which ­ along with other Eastern European countries ­ possesses
many excess AAUs because of rapid de-industrialisation in the early
1990s, is insisting that the AAUs should be carried over. But
environmentalists and Western European countries say this would render
a new Kyoto period meaningless.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday (27 November), Polish environment
minister Marcin Korolec said his country would maintain its objection
because an agreement that discards the AAUs would not be passed by the
Polish parliament. He said other member states should drop their
opposition to carrying over the AAUs. “We have only a few days before
the conference will end, so I think we have to concentrate on real
issues and not on minor issues.”

But emerging and developing countries have said that a second Kyoto
commitment period that is weakened because of the inclusion of AAUs
could jeopardize their commitment to the ‘Durban Platform' ­ the
roadmap toward a future global climate deal in 2020 agreed in Durban,
South Africa last year. The EU is continuing the Kyoto Protocol in
exchange for their agreement to this roadmap.

Russia also wants to be able to use its excess AAUs even though it is
not participating in the Kyoto second period. But the EU is firmly
opposed to this idea. The EU is intent on closing all outstanding
negotiation tracks and merging them into the Durban platform, but it
remains to be seen whether this can be achieved by the end of the

‘Transitional meeting'

The Doha summit is billed as a ‘transitional meeting' bridging the gap
between the Kyoto Protocol, which will expire at the end of this year,
and the new binding climate agreement set to be agreed by 2015 and to
start by 2020. The EU-only second Kyoto period is intended to bridge
the gap and maintain momentum.

The EU has four goals for Doha: adopting a second Kyoto period that
takes effect on 1 January and ends in 2020; making sure India, China
and the US do not take back their commitment to the road map agreed
last year; securing financial commitments from developing countries for
the Green Climate Fund; and narrowing the gap between existing binding
and voluntary emissions reduction targets for 2020, and the reduction
that scientists say is needed to avoid damaging climate change.

“I hope that when we leave Doha, we will be on the other side of the
bridge from the old regime, and will be starting to work on the new
regime,” said Connie Hedegaard, European commissioner for climate
action, in Brussels yesterday (27 November). “The bridge is built by
the European Union and a few others, those of us who take the next
[Kyoto] commitment period.”

Haege Fjellheim, of climate analysts Point Carbon, spoke of “a
sentiment of modest optimism” ahead of the summit's high-level talks.
She is confident of a deal to extend Kyoto because “the alternative
would be disastrous for the international negotiation process.” She
said the AAU issue would be “the most difficult to resolve”, even
though the debate is largely theoretical because they cannot be used in
the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in the 2013-20 period. “These
credits will probably hold a market value very close to zero.”

Korolec accepts this, but he said it was a matter of principle to keep
the AAUs because Poland earned them. A theoretical issue should not be
allowed to derail the talks, he agreed. “If we do not get an agreement
[on Kyoto] by the end of the conference we will face serious questions
of readiness of countries to get an agreement on anything.”

>>> Back to list