Kyoto ProtocolMajor climate issues were discussed, but critics claim not much action came from the UN climate talks that recently ended in Durban, South Africa.

The Durban Climate Change Conference negotiated many issues, including a package deal that would resettle negotiations so that every country is in agreement to create a fund to help developing countries cope, create green technologies, and extend the Kyoto Protocol a few more years. 

There was an agreement by more than 190 nations to work toward a future treaty that would require all countries to reduce emissions that contribute to global warming. The United States signed on reluctantly.

Environmental expert Dr. Raymond A. Nchor, a member of the Environmental Expert Group, does not hold much hope for the new agreement, especially as to its fairness to developing countries. “A new pact, that would not provide a basis for monitoring and verification, with a penalty for violators would not change the current situation. It would simply be a paper pledge, but will not be binding,” he says. “The fact is that any act aimed at satisfying the developing nations can only be against the interests of the industrial world. They will not sign such agreements, which are against their economic dominance.”

One of the main topics of importance at the conference was the Kyoto agreement and whether it needed to be extended. The Kyoto Protocol is aimed at fighting global warming. It was initially adopted on December 11, 1997, in Kyoto, Japan, and made official on February 16, 2005. The first period emission reduction commitments expire at the end of 2012. The targets of the Kyoto Protocol cover less than a third of the world’s carbon output; major emitters are not bound by it. The original agreement, signed by nearly 200 countries — including the United States — was aimed to cut industrialized nations’ global emissions by 5.2 percent compared with 1990’s levels by the end of 2012. But the United States did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol and the agreement did not cover major emerging economies such as China and India.

“The Kyoto Protocol was not successful and was not necessary because those who made their pledges in Kyoto were not sincere with what they signed for. The multi-national industries in those countries do not feel themselves committed to change their production methods. Every critical view is always countered with the defense of their economic interests and the creation of jobs for their people. If their aim is always to produce more than is needed for their own consumption, and export the excess worldwide, to get richer, they will never respect such agreements like the Kyoto Protocol,” Nchor points out. “The increasing overconsumption of energy and raw material lowers environmental morals. They still continue to export their industrial waste to developing countries, while making unverifiable pledges on paper, to reduce CO2 emission and other toxic waste. With such practices, the Kyoto Protocol was doomed to fail.”

Thus, the debates over concrete policies to cut greenhouse-gas emissions over the next decade continued at the conference. The conference in South Africa, says Dr. Nchor, “provided the opportunity to people from the developing world to come on stage and expose the environmental sins of the industrial countries whose advancement and overproduction are the main causes of global warming and environmental catastrophes”.