26 Nov 2010

National Commitments, Compliance and the Future of the Kyoto Protocol

Diarmuid Torney / Noriko Fujiwara

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Among the many unresolved issues on the agenda of the forthcoming UN climate change negotiations in Cancún is the issue of what will happen to the Kyoto Protocol, since at present, there will be no targets for greenhouse (GHG) emissions from developed countries under the Protocol beyond 2012. To illuminate this aspect of the Protocol, this Policy Brief looks closer at the nature of the commitments and the compliance regime under the Kyoto Protocol. We argue that the compliance regime of the Protocol is not as robust as many of the Protocol’s supporters might think. The precise legal form of the commitments in the climate regime may have little impact on whether countries actually achieve their targets. Instead, we argue, negotiators should focus on agreeing a framework of commitments that are credible and enforceable, rather than focus excessively on the legal form of those commitments.