Some rich countries' insistence on carrying over unused Kyoto carbon permits into an extended period may hamper the climate talks in Doha, a Chinese expert on low carbon economy said here Tuesday.
A carry-over of the surplus carbon allowances would harm the global anti-warming efforts, He Jiankun, deputy director of China's national climate change expert panel, told Xinhua on the sidelines of the ongoing UN climate conference held in Qatar, which will decide the future of the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period expires on Dec. 31.
A second commitment period was agreed upon last year in Durban for the 1997 climate accord, the only legally binding treaty obligating industrialized countries to make mandatory and quantified carbon cuts.
Details of the protocol extension need to be worked out in Doha so as to make sure the new period would enter into force on Jan. 1, 2013 as scheduled.
As the climate talks entered the second day, bitter divisions emerged over how to deal with the unused carbon quota of Kyoto pollution permits, which is officially known as Assigned Amount Allowances (AAUs).
He, also a professor at Tsinghua University, said current emission cuts are far from enough to meet the UN target of capping the temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius to avert climate catastrophes, which is agreed by almost 200 nations at the UN climate talks in 2010.
A 5-to-10-gigaton gap still lies between what has been pledged in CO2 cuts and what should be achieved by 2020 for keeping the temperature limit, the professor said.
Separately, a recent report released by UN Environment Program suggested that an extra 8-gigaton reduction in CO2 emissions will be needed to keep the promise.
Given such a grim picture, it is irresponsible for some holders of surplus AAUs to insist on carrying over all these credits without conditions, he said.
According to media reports, the unused AAUs amount to some 13 gigatons of CO2, mostly held by Central and Eastern European countries, which, if fully carried over into the second period, would render the targets of emission cuts more elusive, activists and NGOs have warned.
According to He, to keep the temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius, future allowance for carbon emissions will be limited to only 1 trillion tons for the entire human race activities.
The tight "carbon budget," the professor said, should be attributed to the developed world's excessive burning of fossil energy in the past 200 years' industrialization.
"Rich countries benefited most from shooting carbon into the air during the industrialization, thus they are responsible for the historical accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere," he said.
"If we consider the carbon tolerance as a 'resource,' the developed countries have snatched an un-proportional part of it," he said, urging them to take the lead in slashing greenhouse gas emissions and leave enough room for the developing countries to reach their emission peaks.
On the carbon cuts by some of the AAU holders, he said emission reduction is a result of economic contraction, not of emission-cut efforts.
Spare AAU holders, especially those in Central and Eastern Europe, underwent an economic contraction in the early 1990s, during which heavy industries were badly hurt and factories were shut down.
"Carbon discharge can easily go up when the economy expands," he said, adding that these AAUs holders should not be rewarded the right to carry their carbon quota surplus to the second commitment of the Kyoto Protocol, a move that will hinder the global stride in fighting the climate change.