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Durban is set to be the deathbed of the Kyoto Protocol as climate change negotiators are unlikely to renew it when they descend on South Africa next month for a meeting on its future.

However, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said parties to the UN’s 17th annual Convention on Climate Change will most likely keep the protocol in place while they seek a new legally binding climate change agreement.

The Kyoto Protocol, which expires in December next year, is an international agreement binding the world’s most industrialised nations to reduce their greenhouse emissions by 5% of their 1990 levels.

Addressing the media in Pretoria yesterday, Molewa said a second commitment to the protocol was not likely because countries such as China and India were reluctant to sign without the US, which was not party to the original Kyoto Protocol.

Alf Wills, head of South Africa’s climate change negotiating team, said the parties had three options:

To keep the protocol as it is or develop a new one which will be acceptable to the US and other developed countries;

Negotiate a new protocol acceptable to everyone, including the US; or

Reach a deadlock, which will imply the immediate end of the Kyoto Protocol.

“All three options are on the table, but we are likely to keep the Kyoto Protocol for a transitional period while we negotiate a new agreement,” Wills said. “We need to respect every country’s interest.”

Times Live, 12 October 2011