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NPR reports Kyoto Protocol in trouble in Durban

November 30, 2011 |  1:42 pm

UN climate talks in Durban
You may have noticed that news coverage of the U.N. climate talks in Durban, South Africa, has been minimal, at best, and that’s clearly because -– just like in Copenhagen last year -– there has been almost no mention of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which was put in place to set reduction targets for important greenhouse gases. Without a big, juicy target, the conference lacks the drama to merit mention on even the eco-blogs.

Key aspects of the Kyoto treaty expire in 2012, and NPR boldly goes where no one else seems to want to tread, addressing the more-than-hypothetical: What if Kyoto elapses and nothing happens?

Answer? We’re in trouble. As noted in previous posts on this blog, international treaties have been effective in dealing with global issues like the hole in the ozone layer (Montreal Protocol). More important, without the Kyoto treaty, or something like it, the 192 nations attending the conference don’t really have a framework for setting emission-reduction targets or tackling this in any global way.

The U.S. is still not a signatory to the Kyoto treaty, and China, now the world’s biggest CO2 emitter, wasn’t even covered by it, since it was treated as a “developing” nation.

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-- Dean Kuipers

Photo: Head of the Polish delegation Tomasz Chruszczow, left, and European Union Climate negotiator Artur Runge-Metzenger speaks during a news conference at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa. Almost 200 nations began global climate talks on Monday with time running out to save the Kyoto Protocol. Credit: Rogan Ward/Reuters.

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