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UK Government Offers To Revive Kyoto Protocol (No Joke)

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Britain said on Wednesday it wanted to break the deadlock in U.N. climate talks by supporting the continuation of the existing emissions-cutting Kyoto pact from 2013 under a wider deal involving all countries. That differs from the official European Union position, which is to prefer a single treaty replacing the Kyoto Protocol, in order to engage the United States which never ratified the pact. The concern, however, is that it could be watered down.

A U.N. summit in Copenhagen in December failed to agree binding action to fight climate change, largely because of suspicion between rapidly emerging economies, such as China and India, and industrialised countries.

Kyoto commits 37 industrialised countries including the EU, Japan, Russia and Canada to cut their carbon emissions. The United States under President Barack Obama has been more supportive of a global climate deal compared with his predecessor George W. Bush, provided it involves developing nations and especially China and India.

Developing nations accused rich countries of trying to “kill Kyoto” in order to escape binding curbs on carbon emissions after the end of the first commitment period from 2008-2012.

“A second commitment period of Kyoto is something we’re willing to undertake providing it is part of a legal framework that covers all countries,” said Ed Miliband, energy and climate minister.

“What we propose I hope will start to break the deadlock on a legal treaty. It’s for the EU to take a collective position.”

Britain faces a general election due by June.

Many climate negotiators and analysts have cast doubt on whether the world can agree a post-2012 climate deal at the next major U.N. meeting, in December in Cancun, Mexico.

Britain would support a second period from 2013, provided that bound the emissions of other Kyoto countries, and was accompanied by a second legal instrument binding the United States and developing nations, said Miliband.

Jos Delbeke, head of the European Commission’s climate unit, told Reuters on Wednesday the EU could not sign up to an extension of Kyoto unless that was also supported by Russia and Japan, which did not appear certain, he said.

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