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Kyoto Protocol, Next Period: the Value and Price of Participation

The main justified expectation of the UN climate conference in Doha was the amendment to the Kyoto Protocol that extended its time period. Continuing to keep the intrigue, Russia did not quit the Protocol, but will participate without obligation. According to the presidential adviser Alexander Bedritsky, the value of this participation is in "the system of annual reporting on emissions" ...

The Kyoto Protocol (KP) has no time limits. On December 31, the first period of its commitments expires. Presently, the protocol involved 192 countries - in fact, all countries except the U.S. and Canada.

The new agreement, which was due to start in 2013, was planned to be approved back in Copenhagen in 2009. These plans did not succeed, and the countries have agreed to continue to work on the "Kyoto 2", so as not to lose the best of the first period.

According to representatives of the Russian delegation, the best in the KP is the system of annual reporting on emissions, the more detailed than that provided by the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). According to representatives of other countries and observers, the best were financial mechanisms of CDM and JI.

Participants of the climate conference in Doha adopted the amendment to the Kyoto Protocol. Formally, it was approved by consensus overshadowed by the protest from Russia.

"Russia’s actions in Doha were predictable, and this country has once again missed its chance to become one of the leaders of the “climate movement” and arranged for an ugly scandal.” – says Michael Yulkin, the head of the working group on climate of the Environmental Committee with the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. – “Of course, it was not Russia who started the scandal, but the conflict could be avoided. Moreover, that issue under discussion did not affect us directly. As we did not escape the scandal, then we needed it ..."

However, the protest of the Russian delegation is unlikely to affect the overall result. The Kyoto amendment will enter into force after ratification by ¾ of participating countries. "Most likely, there will be no problem with the ratification on the global scale.” – says Alexei Kokorin, the head of the Climate and Energy Programme with WWF Russia. – “It would be enough if countries of the Group of 77 and China and the EU ratify it; it will be in the amount of about 160 countries."

So, legal requirements needed for smooth continuation of the Kyoto Protocol have been agreed in Doha. There will be no break in access to the mechanisms (CDM and JI) for Annex 1 countries that made commitments on emissions. JI projects will continue to work within the agreed technical rules. The countries that have made commitments on emissions plan to review (strengthen) their commitments to reduce emissions no later than by 2014.

Countries that made commitments are permitted to transfer units contained in the Registry the CDM and JI projects of the first period of the Kyoto Protocol, but no more than 2.5% of the assigned amount (quota) in the acquiring country in the first commitment period.

All of the above does not affect Russia, which remains in Kyoto, but without the emission commitments and probably without the ratification of Kyoto-2. By the way, the non-ratification puts an end to hundreds of projects that could not be implemented in 2012, and to all potential projects that could be implemented in the future.

Meanwhile, the KP of the next period will be presented by all the "biodiversity" of countries with different statuses. Countries are expected to participate with and without commitments, and with and without ratification.

For example, the status of a country that participates in the Protocol, but does not ratify the amendment, allows states to continue following the KP provisions adopted prior to the amendment, for example, the reporting rules. Probably these will be the countries that can become potential "violators" of the amendment. Most likely, it will be Russia, and perhaps not only it.

According to Michael Yulkin, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan are now in a very difficult situation. In fact, they are not allowed to increase emissions beyond the level achieved in 2008-2010. Ukraine could theoretically compensate for its excess emissions in the 2013-2020 years by quotas left over from the first commitment period. However, economic growth and the shift to coal to replace expensive Russian gas that also causes conflicts still remain problematic. To solve it, Ukraine needs to rapidly increase energy efficiency and develop renewable energy, which is only possible with the support of the European Union. If Ukraine does not reach serious agreements with the EU in the nearest future, it will be forced to refuse from participation in the second period of the KP.”

European experts agree. "Ukraine and Belarus have little chance to ratify the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol" - said Andrei Marku, a senior adviser at the Centre for European Policy Studies. According to him, the Ukrainian request for the full, unlimited transfer of "hot air" is directly contrary to the approved text of the Kyoto Protocol.

All countries that are planning to ratify the amendment to the KP, except for Ukraine, have already made their declarations to refuse from purchasing within the quotas trading system. Ukraine's participation will also be hampered by implementation of paragraph G of the “Kyoto” amendment, which requires countries with Kyoto commitments not to exceed the emissions in 2008 – 2010 on the average during 2013 -2020 years.

Actually, namely this point makes Belarus and Kazakhstan to join Russia and participate in the Protocol without commitments: these countries, in contrast to Ukraine, have no "safety cushion" as a residue from the quota of the first period.

It is interesting that some EU countries are likely to be allowed to increase emissions in excess of those actually made in 2008-2010 through the mechanism of redistribution of quotas within the EU. In the KP first period, with the joint EU commitment not to exceed 92% of 1990 emissions, some countries had commitments of no more than 100% of the 1990 level, which was compensated by "increased commitments" by Germany and some other countries like Denmark. According to experts, it is possible that the Europeans will repeat the trick this time again, although there are fewer opportunities to do this now.

In addition, major developing countries (China, India, Brazil, South Korea, etc.), which had no commitments to reduce emissions, still do not take them up to 2020. Instead, they are eligible for financial assistance from developed countries in mitigating climate change and adapting to these changes. New CDM projects in the Kyoto-2 may in fact be only in the least developed countries, which is unlikely to lead to a serious development of CDM and have considerable effect on global emissions.

Michael Yulkin adds that it is not very fair and not very helpful in solving the pressing problems of reducing global emissions for keeping the temperature rise within 2 degrees ...» The KP second commitment period may become a very limited tool for economic assistance from the EU and Australia in implementing CDM projects in developing countries.

However, according to some experts, the official decision on the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol second period could not be considered as the main outcome of the UN Climate Conference in Doha. The main point is that the process is now free from the "baggage" of past years.

"Now the Kyoto "machine" is pushed to the road shoulder and will "go" there for 8 years without interfering with the main movement in the direction of the global emissions reduction” – says Alexei Kokorin, the head of the Climate and Energy Programme with WWF Russia. – “The old dual system was replaced by a unitary one. It was decided that the next 3 years a single special working group on the "Durban Platform" will work in two directions: first, to prepare a new agreement for the period from 2020, and, second, to make efforts to reduce emissions in all countries by 2020."