Kyoto Protocol Extended To 2017

Countries from around the world meeting in Durban have agreed on a program meant to force all the biggest polluters to limit greenhouse gas emissions for the first time.
A complex package of accords, agreed in the early hours of Sunday after marathon United Nations talks in Durban, South Africa, extended the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, Reuters reported.

The first "commitment period" of the Kyoto Protocol runs out in 2012, but has now been extended until 2017 under the new deal -- a key demand by developing countries struggling to preserve the only global pact enforcing carbon cuts.

The United States has never ratified the Kyoto Protocol and Japan, Canada, and Russia have said they will not join the proposed extension of the treaty.

Sunday's deal calls on major developing nations like China and India, excluded under Kyoto, as well as rich nations, to accept legally binding emissions targets in the future. However, the deal does not openly bind any country to take on emissions targets.

China, India, and other developing countries say the developed countries have been burning fossil fuels on an industrial scale for 200 years, which has caused the global warming crisis, so they should be required to make the most cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

The 194-nation conference, in which twelve heads of state and about 130 ministers participated, also agreed on the format of a fund to help poor countries tackle climate change.

However, scientists and environmental groups, as well as many small island nations and developing states at risk of being inundated by rising sea levels and devastated by extreme weather, warned that urgent action was needed to rescue the world from climate catastrophe.

"This empty shell of a plan leaves the planet hurtling towards catastrophic climate change,” Friends of the Earth Executive Director Andy Atkins stated.

Atkins said that the current emissions targets set by developed and developing countries were not enough, adding that “countries like the US who have done most to create this crisis must now take the lead in tackling it."

The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (CMP7) to the Kyoto Protocol opened on November 28 and concluded on December 11.