Things aren’t looking very good for the United Nations’ upcoming climate summit this month. Not only are major world leaders opting not to attend the conference, but only a handful of countries have formally backed an extension to the world’s only legally binding climate agreement.
In December 2012, 144 countries agreed to extend the expiring Kyoto Protocol after climate negotiations broke down and no one could hash out an agreement to replace the 1990s climate treaty. The 144 countries backing the extension were parties to the original treaty.
The bad news for the U.N. and environmentalists is that only eleven of the 144 countries have formally recognized the extension of Kyoto, according to the publication Responding to Climate Change (RTCC).
The only countries to formally back Kyoto’s extension are Bangladesh, Barbados, China, Honduras, Kenya, Mauritius, Micronesia, Monaco, Norway, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates. None of the European Union states have formally backed Kyoto, neither has the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand or Russia.
Canada opted out of the Kyoto Protocol in 2011. Russia, New Zealand and Japan followed by not backing Kyoto’s extension in 2012 over concerns that not binding developing countries (like China and India) to reduce carbon dioxide emissions would render cuts from first world countries useless.
Indeed, Kyoto’s impact has been negligible as carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise — but all while global temperatures have stayed flat and even cooled slightly since Kyoto was ratified in 1997.
The U.N. has plans to rectify the situation by calling on countries that have not yet approved the Kyoto extension to give the international body “information on the nature and timing of such steps” being taken to approve the agreement.