Correspondence

Response to Avaaz call to save the Kyoto Protocol

Response from the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to Avaaz call for Europe to save the Kyoto Protocol at the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha.

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Thank you for your emails dated 7 December, calling for Europe to save the Kyoto Protocol at the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha.

The conclusion of the negotiations in Doha represented a modest, although important, step forward and the EU worked together to help deliver it. In particular, we were pleased that the COP re-stated the commitment to negotiate, by 2015, a global legally binding deal to come into force from 2020, with agreement on a basic work plan, setting out the main meetings in 2013 and directing the discussions towards the form and content of the new deal. We were also pleased that agreement was reached to an 8-year second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

The agreement to a second commitment period included important restrictions on the use and purchase of Assigned Amount Units (AAUs) or ‘hot air’ as it is sometimes called. This included restricting carry over only to those countries that took a target, and so excludes a large proportion of the surplus. In addition, of those countries, 33 made declarations restricting their purchase and use of surplus AAUs – including the EU, where the Climate and Energy Package agreed in 2008 to ensure that the EU reduces its emissions by 20% in 2020 does not allow use of AAUs. In addition, Provisions now also prevent new ‘hot air’ from being generated in the second commitment period.

I was disappointed that we were unable to make more progress in raising ambition to close the gap between the current emissions trajectory and that consistent with keeping the average temperature increase to below 2°C. However, we secured a work plan to explore options for and catalyse increased action to help close the gap. This should allow for a renewed focus on efforts to increase emissions reductions pre 2020, and the UK will continue to push for action here – including on hydrofluorocarbons. While the 2020 target for the EU is only 20%, the COP agreed to a simplified procedure for increasing 2020 second commitment period targets and to a review by its parties in early 2014 to consider increasing ambition. In the meantime, the UK will continue to press the EU to raise its 2020 target to 30%.

Edward Davey

Published 14 February 2013