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EU starts process to ratify Kyoto Protocol extension

Decision likely to dampen concerns from developing countries but critics say 20% reduction target should be raised

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By Ed King

The European Union has announced plans to formally ratify an extension to the Kyoto Protocol that was agreed at last year’s UN climate summit in Doha.

In a statement the European Commission said it would start work to ensure the 20% reduction in combined greenhouse gas emissions between 2013-2020 was legally adopted.

“By formally ratifying the second phase, Europe will help to bring it into force at international level as soon as possible,” said EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard.

“I am confident that the European Parliament, Council, Member States and Iceland will complete the respective ratification procedures as soon as feasible.”

RTCC understands it will take at least three-quarters of a year before the EU passes the extension into law. The national legislatures of the 28 member states will also have to accept the amended treaty.

Kyoto is currently the world’s only legally binding climate change treaty, but only covers around 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Last year Japan, Russia, New Zealand and Canada declined to support an extension to the Protocol, while major emitters like the USA, China and India are not bound by any commitments.

The European Commission’s announcement will answer critics in emerging economies from the developing world who questioned its desire to adopt an extension to Kyoto, but many analysts say the EU needs to raise its emission reduction targets above 20%.

“The formal signal of ratification is an important sign of trust for a lot of the emerging economies from the developing world, but on the other hand the level of ambition the EU is planning to ratify is not enough to mitigate global warming below 2C,” said Greenpeace’s EU climate analyst Martin Kaiser.

“What we know is that this process will last around three-quarters of a year to get ratification in the European Union alone, and overall there are about 140 countries which need to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.”

The EU is expected to review its climate targets in early 2014.

A green paper released by the UK Government last month proposes a 2030 reduction target of 50% on 1990 levels which it says is “affordable” and offers “non-climate effects such as improved air quality or energy security”. UN climate summit host Poland is known to favour a lower commitment.

According to the UN climate website only Barbados, Mauritius and the United Arab Emirates have so far ratified the Kyoto amendment.

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