Only 37 countries willing to back Kyoto Protocol extension

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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After two weeks of bitter fighting over continued emissions reductions and international aid, UN delegates in Qatar finally agreed to an extension of the Kyoto Protocol along with vague promises for aid to help poor countries fight climate change.

However, the Kyoto extension — which lasts until 2020 — was only backed by 37 out of 194 countries, accounting for 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the German publication FOCUS magazine. There is still no clear deal on how much these countries would reduce their emissions.

Der Spiegel online also reports that only 37 countries have agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2012, but that no reduction targets were specified.

CBS News reports that Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Russia opted out of the second phase of Kyoto.

The blog reports that countries which signed the agreement have not set any firm emissions reduction targets.

The protocol is the only binding international climate change agreement, which the U.S. has never ratified. The agreement was set to expire this year, and Japan, New Zealand, Canada and Russia voiced opposition to an extension because it doesn’t bind large developing nations, like China and India, to reduce emissions, effectively rendering their own efforts to cut emissions pointless.

This time around the agreement was weakened and countries participating in the agreement are allowed to set their own emissions reductions by 2020.

The conference also agreed in principle to have rich countries take steps to aid poor countries that have been damaged by climate change.

However, Andy Atkins, executive director of the environmental activist group Friends of the Earth told the BBC that the agreement was an “empty deal.”

“What they’ve done is extend the mandate for eight years and agreed, no new cuts at all,” he said, “So this is a very empty deal.”

In 2009, rich nations, including the United States, pledged long-term aid to help poor nations mitigate the impacts of global warming, starting with $10 billion a year between 2010 and 2012.

Funding would increase to $100 billion in 2020.

This became a major sticking point in this year’s negotiations as rich countries with depressed economies and budget constraints were unwilling to make any firm funding commitments and poor countries asked for $100 billion per year in climate aid by 2020.

Atkins also added that no money is on the table for climate change aid to poor countries and that promises from rich countries to give aid to poor countries haven’t been kept.

However, a grand climate bargain is set to happen in 2015, according to the Associated Press, as the Qatar agreement affirms a 2015 deadline for adopting a new global climate change agreement.

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