Will the world be left with no legal agreement to cut carbon emissions after 2012?

It’s December 2011 – at the same time next year we will be just weeks away from the end of the ‘Kyoto Protocol’ – a global legal agreement to cut carbon emissions. When that expires the world is likely to be left without legally binding CO2 reduction targets.

Rémi Gruet, senior regulatory affairs advisor from EWEA who is at the meeting, said the situation looks bad. The best outcome the world can hope for is a roadmap outlining the steps needed to reach a global climate agreement by 2015, he said.

Despite the warnings from scientists that we must limit global temperature rises to 2°C to prevent dangerous climate change, the political will does not appear to be there. “There is a decoupling between the science and political action,” Gruet said.

The situation has dramatically changed since the COP15 conference in Copenhagen two years ago when hopes were high for a political agreement on carbon cutting targets post-2012. Then, the media attention was huge and Heads of State attended the negotiations. Today media interest is scant, and Heads’ of State are unlikely to attend.

The US, Canada, Russia, Japan and the oil-producing countries are all believed to be unlikely to make any political commitment. The EU – which already has a deal to cut carbon emissions by 20% by 2020 – is pushing for a roadmap for a second Kyoto that would be signed by 2015 and come into effect by 2020. But Connie Hedegaard, European commissioner for climate action, warned that the EU alone would not be able to make a big difference to global climate emissions.

“If the EU was to take up a second Kyoto period with a few other developed economies, it might cover at most 16% of global emissions, where the first Kyoto period covered around one third of global emissions,” Hedegaard said. “How can this be labelled a success for the climate?” Negotiations close on 9 December.

Zoë Casey, blog.ewea.org/