The Paris Climate Deal Might be About to Get a Bit Bitey … Finally (2)

By Mathew Carr

London — Oct. 2: Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary at the UNFCCC, said Friday the Kyoto Protocol would be extended through this year.

The missive shows multilateral climate talks have not completely fallen off track.

With the extension (known as the Doha amendment) secure, UN climate envoys can more easily finish the complicated task of agreeing international accounting and carbon-trading rules under the Paris climate deal. This will stop two countries claiming the same emission reduction, for instance.

At talks in Madrid late last year, UN envoys considered allowing a certain portion of emission credits created during the period ending 2020 into the Paris deal after 2021. Under than plan, which wasn’t agreed, developing nations would be allowed to use more pre- 2021 credits than richer nations that have caused most of the climate problem.

Allowing countries to trade carbon across borders and across phases gives them a reserve of carbon credits they can tap if they need to — cutting the risk of climate action.

Nations that are allowed to trade carbon credits will be more likely to take on much tighter emission reduction targets under Paris because the pool of credits and allowances will give them comfort. The EU has set up a reserve of allowances to give it flexibility and keep scarcity in its carbon market.

There’ll probably be strict conditions applied under Paris to nations wanting to tap this flexibility.

Whether nations want to join the system will be voluntary, so countries outside may have no or limited access to emission credits to plug gaps in their emissions targets. (For example, if their nuclear plants need to close down after a terrorist attack.) Because they will feel less comfortable, they’ll be less likely to be ambitious when setting their targets.

The targets are known in the Paris deal as “nationally determined contributions” and the world’s almost 200 nations are meant to make their Paris targets stricter this year.

Had the countries failed to extend Kyoto, it would have been more difficult for emission-reduction projects that have cut emissions in the Clean Development Mechanism (the main existing UN carbon market) to generate any money for their effort. China, which plans a national carbon market, produced most credits under the CDM.

Regulators are considering the future of the CDM on Monday (see link below for a little of the background). The panel that’s meeting in Bonn, Germany, and virtually, is known as the CDM executive board.

Not only the UN carbon markets, but the possibility of a truly global and effective climate-action framework is at risk.

Without a global solution, the world will continue to be hit for years by a flood of national and corporate greenwashing, as politicians are gripped by fear and companies are forced to try to make sense of a patchwork of complicated voluntary, regional and national environmental standards.


Here’s some of the other news coverage on Kyoto’s extension (I’m not endorsing it):

See this for context on UN climate effort:

(This story was updated Sunday afternoon and made more clear on Monday morning London time, headline updated Monday evening)

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