Support for new Kyoto target would build momentum ahead of Doha Media Brief

Oct 24, 2012 - 11:03am

Time is running out for Australia to help build positive momentum ahead of the Doha climate talks, which commence in just over 30 days. Early, in-principle support for a second commitment period will bolster international negotiations aimed at securing a new legally binding agreement covering all major emitters by 2015 (see link to policy brief below).

"A second round of targets under Kyoto is a critical lever to achieving a new legal binding agreement that covers all major emitters. Kyoto remains a key stepping stone to translate the actions China, the USA and other major emitters are taking into international law."

- John Connor, CEO from The Climate Institute

The Coalition has already voiced its in-principle support for a second Kyoto target paving the way for a continued bipartisan approach to global climate change diplomacy that remains in Australia's long-term interests.

A delay in an announcement will undermine progress and detract from the important contribution that Australia can make to a positive outcome in Doha.


What happens if Australia doesn’t take on a new target?

If Australia walks away from its international commitments under Kyoto, it would likely play into the hands of recalcitrant countries which may seek to avoid taking on legal commitments in 2015. It would return the Government to the defensive posture that characterised Australia’s previous position of not ratifying the Protocol and would hinder the Government’s ability to positively influence the negotiations.

Not taking on a second commitment period would also impact Australian businesses liable under the domestic carbon laws (see brief on market access below).

Based on legal analysis and consultations with international experts it concludes that if Australia does not take on a new Kyoto target there is a risk that Australian companies will not be able to directly access emission units generated under the UN’s international trading mechanisms.

For business this risks one or more of the following:
  • Greater levels of uncertainty as to when, how and for how much they could access international units as protracted negotiations around the eligibility of countries to access markets continue.
  • Direct access to emission units generated under the UN’s international trading mechanisms is not possible. This would substantially increase carbon prices in Australia.

Lack of access to Kyoto mechanisms would also impact on Australia’s ability to generate up to $770 million in revenue from the sale of excess emission units. These units are generated from over-achieving our first Kyoto commitment.


Background

Australia ratified the Protocol four years ago, ending the years of recalcitrance that cost the country diplomatically and in lost investment opportunities. Australia was also the first major Kyoto country to stand up in Copenhagen and say it was prepared to take on a second commitment period Kyoto target for the period after 2012 under a number of conditions.

In Durban, it was decided that new Kyoto targets would be agreed to at the end of 2012. These would cover the period from 2013–2017 or 2013– 2020. In May 2012, countries will begin submitting details of the target they are prepared to inscribe in the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

Current Kyoto targets lapse at the end of 2012. All countries except Canada are expected to meet these international commitments.

By the end of this year, the Australian Government will need to decide whether the nation accepts a new Kyoto Protocol target for the period 2013–17 or 2013– 2020.
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