By Sam Pollan, ‘14
The expected “Big Deal” coming out of Durban may or may not be the second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol, but the emerging EU roadmap is looking like a more promising result now that we are nearing the end of the conference. The EU roadmap is essentially a document planning binding emissions targets for 2015 through the post-2020 period and here is the best part: the US is actually supportive. According to British Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne, over 120 countries are already supporting this new agreement including several developing and AOSIS countries that have predominantly been pushing towards the second commitment period. Even Jennifer Morgan, who spoke with our group in DC on behalf of the World Resources Institute, is hopeful here in Durban of a concrete roadmap.
One of the most important aspects of this new proposal is that it is expected to place restrictions on emerging economies such as the BRICS countries. Under Kyoto, countries like China and India with huge populations and emissions had no obligation to reduce their absolute emissions. Under the proposed plan, even adhering to the “common but differentiated responsibilities” principle, most, if not all, countries would have some form of binding emissions target. Legally binding emissions reductions, however, are not always feasible for a country. The US, for example, is in a political gridlock. Even though the US has voiced its approval and willingness to sign onto the developing roadmap, the reality is that they can only fulfill any agreement they commit to at COP17 if the end result will not have legally binding targets as the only form of adherence.
Despite the US being the US, Huhne said that the roadmap will provide concrete action plans for the future and the agreement will have substance. He continued to say that the roadmap will not be settled without the resolution of a firm and credible agreement. If the agreement lacks potency, the proposal will have to be addressed more in future meetings. In this highly convoluted series of deliberations over the past two weeks, this proposed “EU Roadmap” could potentially open up the negotiations and allow for more progress down the road.