x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

India to join bloc to negotiate extension to Kyoto Protocol

India will work as part of a block of developing countries including China, Brazil and South Africa at climate-change talks next week to try to negotiate an extension to the Kyoto Protocol.

NEW DELHI // India will work as part of a block of developing countries including China, Brazil and South Africa at climate-change talks next week to try to negotiate an extension to the Kyoto Protocol, the country's top climate negotiator said.

If ways are not found to extend Kyoto, there could be a period of eight years without any global climate pact in place, as a new agreement is due to come into effect only after 2020, said RR Rashmi, who will be India's chief climate negotiator at the talks in Doha. The talks are to start on November 26.

Successive rounds of annual United Nations climate meetings have failed to produce binding commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions once Kyoto expires at the end of the year.

The World Bank warned in a report on Sunday that the present global mean temperature of 0.8°C above pre-industrial levels could rise to as high as 4°C by 2100, even if countries fulfil current emissions-reduction pledges, possibly resulting in extreme heatwaves, declining global food stocks and a life-threatening rise in sea levels.

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol set out legally-binding emission-reduction targets for developed countries, but excluded developing ones. The US did not ratify the pact.

"This [the extension] is a moot question which everyone has to consider in Doha," Mr Rashmi said at a recent briefing, adding that negotiators would seek to extend the deadline of the Kyoto pact by either five or eight years.

Any extension to Kyoto Protocol would be a stopgap arrangement pending the 2020 global emissions-cutting agreement coming into force. Its terms are due to be set in negotiations starting in 2015, and in Doha negotiators would try to work out its broad contours, Mr Rashmi said.

China, the US and India, the three largest emitters of greenhouse gases, have pledged to sign up to it.

Extending Kyoto, even informally, is likely to be a tough ask. Canada withdrew from the protocol last December and Japan has said it won't accept binding emissions targets any more unless major polluters such as the US, China and India accept similar restrictions.

Instead, Japan is working with Indonesia and several other Asian nations outside the multilateral framework on creating bilateral carbon dioxide offset pacts aimed at cutting developing countries' emissions and promoting Japan's exports of energy-efficient and low-pollution technology.

"There is no doubt that ratification of the extension will not take place by the time the Kyoto Protocol comes to an end by December 31," Mr Rashmi said, noting that individual countries would have to submit this to their own legislatures for approval.