Climate Change is seen by many Governments as one of the key issues of environmental protection. Many Governments support the adoption of a long-term binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The first commitment period of the current agreement, the Kyoto Protocol concludes end-2012 and, at present, an extension of the reductions in emissions for developed countries, mandated under the Kyoto Protocol, has not been agreed. This is primarily as a number of developed countries believe that rapidly emerging economies must also make reductions in their greenhouse gas emissions if the atmospheric concentrations of these gases are to be stabilised at a level that will not lead to large global temperature rises.
The emissions of HFCs are included in basket of gases in the Kyoto Protocol. It is estimated that the overall global warming impact of HFC emissions worldwide currently represents less than 2% of the total global greenhouse gases emissions. While HFCs are the preferred solution for many societal needs because of their safety and performance advantages, without action the demand for HFCs will grow due to the replacement of HCFCs as well as the increasing demand for refrigeration and air conditioning, especially in developing countries. Such growth would result in HFCs becoming a more significant source of emissions in the future.
Negotiations on establishing a new international agreement to tackle climate change continue under the auspices of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which holds annual formal meetings as well as a number of working group meetings throughout each year. The 16th Conference of Parties (COP-16) to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change met in Cancun, Mexico from December 7 to 18, 2010.
The “Cancun Agreements” were the key outcomes of the meeting from COP-16 and are detailed in decisions 1/CP.16 and 1/CMP.6.
Two groups, the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-term Co-operative Action (AWG-LCA) and the Ad-hoc Working Group on the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) were instrumental in carrying out the negotiations and providing the texts that form the Cancun Agreements.
The outcome of work by the AWG-LCA and the main elements of the Bali Action Plan covers: a shared vision for long-term cooperative action; adaptation; mitigation; finance; technology; and capacity building (Decision 1/CP.16). This decision also extends the mandate of the AWG-LCA to 2011 to carry out the undertakings contained in the decision. It also continues the discussions of legal options to complete an agreed outcome based on the Bali Action Plan. The AWG-LCA has been requested to present the results for adoption at COP-17 in Durban.
The outcome of the work of the AWG-KP (Decision 1/CMP.6) mandates work to continue with the results adopted “as early as possible” to avoid a gap between the first and second commitment periods. Annex I Parties’ pledges for economy-wide emission reduction targets are noted and they are urged to increase the level of ambition. The decision further indicates that emissions trading and the project-based mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol shall continue to be available, together with measures related to LULUCF. Further work in 2011 will be based on AWG-KP’s draft texts contained in FCCC/KP/AWG/CRP.4/Rev.4.