The Climate Countdown

This year’s climate talks in Doha have merely set the stage for more dramatic negotiations in 2015, when a new comprehensive treaty must be adopted. Reaching an agreement strong enough to keep global warming under two degrees Celsius will require vision and leadership from policymakers, and increased pressure from ordinary citizens.

LONDON – It seems to have become a ritual for United Nations climate negotiations to reach the brink of collapse before an intense, contentious compromise is achieved after the deadline. But the torturous conclusion to this year’s talks in Doha – in which nearly 200 countries agreed to extend the Kyoto protocol – has merely set the stage for more dramatic negotiations in 2015, when a new comprehensive agreement must be reached.

The just-concluded deal establishes a bridge between the old climate regime and a new, as-yet-undefined one. By extending the Kyoto Protocol – which limits some developed countries’ greenhouse-gas emissions – for another eight years, the Doha agreement preserves the vital framework of international law and retains hard-won accounting rules for emissions allowances and trading between countries.

But the deal also confirms that, in 2020, Kyoto will be replaced by a new treaty, which will discard the outdated binary distinction between “developed” and “developing” countries. The new arrangement will require commitments from all countries that are commensurate with their level of development.

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