Introducing Kiernan Veith! Kiernan was a student delegate
from DePaul University to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCC) COP-15 conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. With her major in
Political Science and a minor in Environmental Studies, Kiernan brings to the
Natural Security program not only a deep background on climate change, but also
the analytical scope to explore environmental and climate change through a
national security and foreign policy lens. Take it away, Kiernan!
Last Friday, June 17, 2011, marked the last day of the
two-week United Nation’s Climate Talks in Bonn, Germany. With the first phase of the Kyoto
Protocol commitments set to expire at the end of 2012, the talks in Bonn were expected to pick up on the outcomes
of the 16th Conference of Parties (COP) in Cancun last December and prepare for
the 17th COP in Durban this December.
There was modest
progress made during the negotiations
toward extending carbon trading mechanisms and building institutions to help
developing countries adapt to changes in the climate. The large differences that have been part of
this process for more than 20 years (finance, emissions cuts, and future of the
protocol) remained unresolved at the end of the two-week sessions, said the Environmental Defense Fund. These large differences include where nations
will get the financing to stimulate investment in low-carbon development/adaptation,
exact emissions reduction targets and whether or not to extend the Kyoto
Protocol for a second period.
Some highlights from
- Japan, Canada, and Russia expressed their opposition
to an extension of Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012.
- African Group (the 53 member states of the
African Union), Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Iran, Lebanon, Malaysia,
Philippines, Thailand and Uruguay in a Joint Submission to the UN said
that greenhouse has emissions from developed countries “should
peak without any delay no later than 2012” and that “the
time frame for peaking will be much longer in developing countries in
order to ensure sufficient time for and equitable access to sustainable
development, and bearing in mind that social and economic development and
poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of developing
- During a press briefing, Jonathan
Pershing, deputy chief U.S. climate negotiator, told reporters that beyond the U.S.
target to cut emissions by 17 percent by 2020, no further commitments
would be made until a full agreement was reached. The United States is “not
prepared to have a legal agreement that would apply to us and not to
others,” he said.
European Union (EU), the main backer for the Kyoto Protocol’s renewal,
said it would not unilaterally extend the protocol if other major
economies were not to boost efforts to cut emission in a parallel way.
It will be interesting to see what transpires over the next
year leading up to Durban. Having
attended COP15, the UN Climate Conference in December 2009 in Copenhagen,
Denmark, it is clear that countries remain at odds over the future of the Kyoto
Protocol and that “the process
is so volatile that even progress on technical issues are often held hostage by
fundamental political issues like the future of the Kyoto Protocol, equity and
overall ambition,” according to Environmental News Service.