Dumping the world’s only legal agreement on fighting climate change would be gambling with the future of the planet and the world’s poorest people, four major UK campaign groups are warning.
They say that rich countries, including the European Union and United States, are trying to abandon the existing Kyoto Protocol, which requires them to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, and replace it with a new treaty which imposes obligations on all countries.
In a new briefing, 'Don’t Kill Kyoto', campaigners from Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth, the World Development Movement and CAFOD argue that the Kyoto Protocol must remain the cornerstone of any agreement made in Copenhagen this month.
"Rich countries must stop playing roulette with the future of the planet," says Eliot Whittington, Christian Aid’s Senior Adviser on climate justice.
"Instead of trying to scrap the Kyoto Protocol, they should recognise that it is a strong foundation on which countries urgently need to base their new commitments to tackle climate change.
"Furthermore, it is the only foundation we have – and because the world is warming so fast and people are already suffering as a result, there isn’t enough time to abandon it and build a completely new one."
'Don’t Kill Kyoto' says that countries which have signed the Kyoto Protocol are legally obliged to negotiate a second commitment period to follow on from the current one, which expires in 2012.
It also emphasises that it took the world years of international negotiations to secure the Protocol, which sets legally binding emissions targets for developed countries and also creates systems for ensuring the targets are fair and for checking that countries are meeting them.
"The science of climate change is clear on the urgency of action," comments the briefing. "There are less than 10 years to secure a peak in global emissions... It is extremely unlikely that a new, detailed and effective legal architecture can be put together in the necessary timeframe."
If Kyoto were to be abandoned, it adds, "all that could remain is countries taking action at a level that suited domestic circumstances – with inevitably disastrous consequences for all the world’s people and especially those in developing countries, where the poorest and most vulnerable people live."
Read the report in full here (Adobe Acrobat *.PDF file): http://www.christianaid.org.uk/images/dont-kill-kyoto-briefing.pdf