100 Days before the end of the Kyoto Protocol, pressure group says Climate will be key to independence debate.

As a result of finding out that the Kyoto commitments technically comes to an end on the 31st December, the Scottish Climate & Energy Forum have been investigating the likely consequences of this both in terms of what is likely to happen to the protocol and the wide implications when (as it seems) the protocol effectively ends operation on the 31st December.

We have written this up as a report. The main intention of this report has been to try to find the actual facts and having sorted the chaff from the wheat, ascertain what this might mean (with particular emphasis on Scotland).

The report has been produced to coincide with today which is 100 days to Kyoto Ends, and it is available on the website:


For obvious reasons, the report is biased toward Scotland and we can only really speak with authority about the Scottish context. We will welcome any comments on the report, criticism or suggestions for improvement.


Mike Haseler

Summary of main conclusions:

1.      Commitments under the Kyoto Protocol cease as of 31st December.

2.      The 3rd October 2012 is the latest date at which any amendment to the Kyoto protocol could have been passed for it to be operational by 1st January 2013.

3.      With no meeting planned, and huge delays for members states to ratify, there is no practical way for an amendment to be presented and ratified by the 143 members (3/4 of members).

4.      When the commitment ceases on the 31st December, all operational Articles stop being effective. The only active clauses appear to be 5 & 19 (estimate of greenhouse gases), 8 (review of national inventories) & 11 (financial obligations to undeveloped countries). Administrative functions such as meetings and procedures for amendments remain active.

5.      There is talk of bypassing domestic procedures for ratification by amending articles 20 & 21 to allow the amendment to enter into force before it is ratified by the parties. This will allow it to enter into force earlier than otherwise but will not stop the commitment ceasing on 31st December.

6.      In an almost unprecedented move, there is talk of a last minute extra-Kyoto-protocol agreement where some countries (particularly the EU) intend to agree to Kyoto-like commitments after the Kyoto protocol commitment ceases.

Political Impacts

1.      The practical effect of Kyoto has been marginal even possibly counter-productive.

2.      Kyoto was a symbol of a global political consensus. That political consensus has come to an end.

3.      It is most likely the Nov/Dec Climate talks will not agree any substantive extension to Kyoto or that it will be changed in any other way. If the goodwill was not there to change the commitments in the last 3 years it is not there to hurry through other changes which would reduce state influence.

4.      Europe, the main proponent for Kyoto, is likely to try to induce enough other states to assent to a form of political deal to give cover for the lack of Kyoto Commitments.

5.      Sometime over the next year, green groups will realise Kyoto has ended and start campaigning vociferously for a replacement to Kyoto. But their main impact will be to raise public awareness that Kyoto has ended and undermine emissions reduction policy.

6.      Anti wind & anti EU Parties like the UK Independence Party, will start campaigning in opposition to the European policy on climate. As wind opposition is growing, this will have knock on effects. In the UK it will push the Conservatives to become anti-wind potentially destabilising the UK coalition where the Lib Dems are strong advocates for climate policy.

7.      Scotland is in for a storm: historical accident; impending solar minimum; a government heavily committed to wind subsidies, needing to prove its economic credibility as oil runs out; these will make energy & climate a critical issue in the independence debate. 

Mike Haseler, Chairman of Scottish Climate and Energy Forum
email: mike@scef.org.uk


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