Hot Air, Hot Topic at COP18

There is a vast surplus of units in Kyoto's cap-and-trade system. Russia and Ukraine spoke in favor of the carry-over of AAUs to the second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol (KP2) and beyond. If no solution for the carry-over of this surplus from commitment period to commitment period is found, countries that have put forward a target for KP2 may be under no pressure to deviate from business-as-usual emissions.

Poland has become one of the strongest carry-over advocates and was recently awarded the Fossil of the day anti-award for blocking the negotiations on this matter. On the 30th of November Russian and Ukrainian official delegations added up to it by not demonstrating any flexibility on this issue. Both countries stand for the carry-over of hot air to the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol and beyond (the latter is relevant for Russia which does not support KP2 and is calling for a brand new global agreement).

Russian delegation proclaimed that all their AAUs is the result of their efforts to reduce emissions and that it is the country’s sovereign right to be able to trade them. But there’s no secret that the decrease of Russian and other post-Soviet emissions from 1990 on was due to the industrial decline of the beginning of the 90’s. Currently Russia’s emissions insignificantly but do grow and are approximately 35% below the 1990 level.

In order to justify such a position Russia claims to need more time to develop new technologies and projects and that the emissions reduction will come at a later stage. Having the surplus will help maintain the trust of Russian business and will serve as additional incentive for its participation.

In this situation it is hard to understand Russia’s position, since the announced refusal to support KP2 in fact buried any chance of Russian business taking part in JI projects, which would enable Russia’s industry low-carbon modernization.

The issue of AAUs surplus has been discussed with no result for a few years. This year the G77 group of countries and China suggested the minimization of AAU carry-over to KP2, the ban on trading AAUs and cancellation of hot air surpluses at the end of KP2.

At the moment CAN-International network participants are preparing an information campaign addressing this matter. Its main lobby points are the following.

  1. Cancel all Kyoto units including surplus at the end of the KP2
  2. Do not allow for trading of carried over Kyoto units, except for units coming from the Clean Development Mechanism.
  3. If a Party’s quantitative reduction target is higher than its 2012