The historic 1997 Kyoto Protocols first commitment period is set to expire next year. But, like the climate-change conferences in Copenhagen in 2009 and in Cancun in 2010, COP-17 can be expected to spend much and produce little.
The 1st option under consideration in at the climate conference in Durban, is the adoption of a second commitment period and its provisional application, in the event that a fully ratified second commitment period is not in force by the end of the first commitment period.
The 2nd option is a two-stage process: a decision in Durban ensuring immediate continuity, and a package of amendments to the Kyoto Protocol that could be ratified as a second stage possibly based on progress under the Convention.
The 3rd option is a decision by the convention with no amendment to the Kyoto Protocol.
The 4th option is a declaration: for example a unilateral declaration by Parties.
In an interview, climate expert and National Climate Change Coordinator, Mr. Washington Zhakata said parties have and are still engaged in intensive work on issues and options on Quantified Emissions Limitations and Reductions Objectives (QELROs), on numbers, form and length of the commitment period, and issues and options on mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol.
He said there is considerable amount of common ground on the issue of the second commitment period.
Mr. Zhakata said the challenge faced by countries is ratification adding that doing so before 2013 may not be feasible.
He said looking at the current stage of negotiations; Durban may not achieve a fully ratified amendment to the Kyoto Protocol amendment (for the second commitment period) by 2013.
Some delegates at the conference expressed confusion on how this story of Kyotoâ€™s sad fate will end in the next two days.
Some said a quick death is now unlikely, given the protests it will generate and the bad name this will give the perpetrators, while others believe putting the Kyoto protocol on life support and postpone its discussions to COP18 in Qatar next year is the alternative.
African Group delegates said COP17 Durban is shaping up as a clash of paradigms between those who believe that the world deserves and needs a science and rules based multilateral climate system to tackle the greatest challenge to face humanity and those who are seeking to dismantle the existing one.
Some delegates believe a second commitment period of Kyoto is still on the table as negotiations continue to close the gaps and reach an agreement.
They however said if the agreement is not reached parties might decide to postpone discussions on the second commitment period to COP18 to be held in Qatar next year.
Skepticism among parties stems from the failure of similar conferences in the past to reach a new global deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires next year.
Speculation has been rife over whether the worldâ€™s only legally binding emissions deal would survive the reported planned defection of Canada and the refusal of Japan and Russia to commit again.
At the centre of the stalemate is disagreement between the rich and poor nations over each others’ responsibilities in reducing dangerous emissions.
Some delegates said although it is unlikely that a new deal will be signed in Durban, COP17 is an important gathering because it will not only ensure that climate change remains firmly on the world’s agenda, but because it puts pressure on those countries – such as the US – which are reluctant to make commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.