The Second Commitment Period?
For some of the delegations, a Second Commitment Period under the Kyoto Protocol was one of the top priorities for this 16th Conference in Cancun. Among these were Norway, the European Union and the majority of the developing countries. On the other hand, some countries like Japan and Russia had made it clear that they didn’t want a new commitment period.
There was no agreement on this issue in Cancun. The negotiation text of the Kyoto Protocol is getting longer and longer and if we do not find an agreement on this text in Durban in December, it is clear that the Protocol will definitely disappear.
As the 1st commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol started in 2008, it will end in December 2012. After the 31st of December 2012, the targets committed by the Annex I countries under the Protocol will lose their legal value.
For the G77 (the developing countries), an agreement on a new commitment period is the sine qua none condition for any legally binding agreement on climate change. Without this, an international agreement on climate change will not be reached and above all, the emissions of the Annex I countries will not be reduced.
The mitigation targets:
After the COP15, the countries associated to the Copenhagen Accord sent their voluntarily emissions reductions commitments to the UNFCCC secretariat. For the scientific- and the NGO communities, these commitments are far from what science requires and will never be sufficient to hold the increase of the average global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius (as the parties also agreed on in Copenhagen). This gap (between the voluntarily and weak commitments and the political objective) was rapidly named the gigatonne gap
Even though the parties probably won’t change their targets after Cancun, the commitments are now taken into note in the Agreement and written in a document mentioned by the COP decision. The positive news are that the Conference of the Parties urges the developed countries to increase the ambition of their targets to a level recommended by the last IPCC review (understand between 25 and 40%).