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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Post-Kyoto syndrome

Unless greenhouse gas emissions are lowered, the mounting temperature will cause an irreversible climate change
10 June, 2010 - 00:00

This week the next two-week round of climate change talks is nearing completion in Bonn. The main task of 2,000 delegates from some 150 countries is to work on the text of a new agreement on greenhouse gas emission reductions to replace the Kyoto Protocol. There are two other important topics under study: distribution of $30 billion US financial aid to help underdeveloped countries adjust to climate change and putting an end to world deforestation. Changes to the Kyoto Protocol have been discussed in relation to emission quota sales — and this has a most direct bearing on Ukraine.

The Day was told by the National Ecological Center that the talks in Bonn are held along two lines. First, the possibility of renewing the Kyoto Protocol by working out the so-called Post-Kyoto Protocol. Parallel to this, work is being done on another document within the framework of the convention, since the Kyoto Protocol does not provide for the developing countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Ukraine, as a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, falls under the developed-country category, so it must help underdeveloped countries adjust to climate change. According to the National Ecological Investments Agency, Ukraine’s official stand in the matter remains unchanged: greenhouse gas emissions will have been lowered by 20 percent before 2020, compared to 1990. In addition, Ukraine insists on retaining its transition economy status and on the transfer of unused gas emission quotas to the next agreement, with an eye to selling them afterward.

“The talks envisage achieving a compromise to reach the common goal, whereas over the past several years Ukraine has been reiterating its desire to considerably increase greenhouse gas emissions. This, of course, isn’t making the talks any easier,” Iryna Stavchuk reported to The Day from Bonn. Quotas were discussed in Bonn two days ago, but the negotiators failed to reach an agreement, considering that various countries take varying stands in the matter, so working out a uniform strategy is easier said than done.

Stavchuk went on to say that the environmental organizations are against the quota transfer because these quotas are being misused and this discourages the developed countries from reducing gas emissions. Under the Kyoto Protocol, Ukraine has surplus quotas — not because this country is actively implementing the greenhouse gas emission reductions policy, but because when the Kyoto Protocol was ratified by the Ukrainian parliament, no one knew what course the economy would take. Ukraine was a poor country, so it undertook commitments that would bring these results. Now certain countries are questioning the distribution of these quotas, saying it was politically rather than scientifically substantiated. This is something to be taken into account. Possibly the climate change accords will remain the same until August 2010, and that we will continue living in Ukraine in accordance with the old rules of heavily polluting the atmosphere and applying no alternative technologies.

Perhaps the only positive aspect that can inspire hope for Ukraine to lower carbon emissions that cause global warming is the holding of talks recently between a task force of the Ministry of Protection of the Environment (Minpryrody) of Ukraine and the World Bank’s Clean Technology Fund. The topic was the same: easing the anthropogenic burden on the planet. Minpryrody has informed The Day that during the talks emphasis was placed on the implementation in Ukraine of programs and projects in the sphere of low carbon power engineering.

To make these projects effective, Ukraine has to carry out a number of reforms, including the setting up of an ecological investments fund where money provided by domestic and foreign investors will be transferred. The Clean Technology Fund expects Ukraine’s proposals concerning alternative technologies. Of course, activating such programs would serve everyone’s benefit. The Day has repeatedly mentioned such projects, but somehow all of them have remained on paper.

Oksana MYKOLIUK, The Day