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UN talks agree last-ditch deal to extend Kyoto Protocol

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-12-09

After 12 days of tough climate talks in Doha, a UN summit struck a last-minute deal Saturday to extend the Kyoto Protocol to 2020 after failing to agree on a new international commitment to tackle climate change.

A UN conference passed a package of agreements on Saturday combating climate change and extended the life of the Kyoto Protocol, the only binding pact on curbing Earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions, its chairman said.

Agreement on the modalities of a Kyoto "second commitment period," which seeks to rein in climate change pending a new global pact due to enter into force in 2020, concluded 12 days of tough haggling in Doha.

After several days of deadlocked talks, conference chairman Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah finally rushed through the package of deals which he termed the Doha Climate Gateway, riding roughshod over country objections as he swung the gavel in quick succession proclaiming: "It is so decided."

Observers said Russia had been trying to halt the extension of Kyoto, whose first leg expires on December 31.

Moscow objected to the passing of the deal, and noted that it retained the right to appeal the president's action.

The talks, scheduled to have closed on Friday, ran a whole day into extra time, paralysed as rich and poor nations faced off on issues including finance and compensation for climate damage.

An extension of Kyoto was finally approved with the 27-member European Union, Australia, Switzerland and eight other industrialised nations signing up for binding emission cuts by 2020.

They represent about 15 percent of global emissions.

The protocol locks in only developed nations, excluding major developing polluters such as China and India, as well as the United States which refuses to ratify it.

One of the key disputes in Doha was "hot air," the name given to greenhouse gas emission quotas that countries were given under the first leg of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and did not use -- some 13 billion tonnes in total.

The package also includes agreement to scale up funding to help poor countries deal with global warming and convert to planet-friendlier energy sources.

This had been a key area of dispute, with developed nations under pressure to show how they intend to keep a promise to raise climate funding for poorer nations to $100 billion (76 billion euros) per year by 2020 -- up from a total of $30 billion in 2010-2012.

(AFP)

Date created : 2012-12-08

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