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KPMG: UN climate change talks could face potential “time bomb”

By Rob Starr, Content Manager,

According to a new paper from KPMG International, the wording of the last international climate agreement has left the UN process with a potential “time bomb.” KPMG’s Sustainable Insight paper, entitled Will Doha deliver a deal?, predicts problems with the commitment made at the 2011 UN conference in Durban, South Africa. Focusing on implications for the business community, the paper looks the next round of UN climate talks, COP 18, which take place in Doha, Qatar from 26 November to 7 December 2012.

The paper identifies three important gaps KPMG says the 2012 climate talks must address to address the concerns of business:

  1. The Kyoto Gap: the fate of the Kyoto Protocol is still unclear after being abandoned by Japan, Russia, Canada and New Zealand. The treaty was never ratified by the US.
  2. The Ambition Gap: it is clear that current international commitments to reduce carbon emissions are insufficient to restrict average temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius, the maximum “safe” rise recommended by most climate scientists.  Businesses will be watching the outcome of Doha closely to see what new commitments emerge, whether they will mean companies are required to take on more stringent targets and whether new opportunities in low-carbon sectors will be created.
  3. The Finance Gap: agreement was reached in Durban on the Green Climate Fund to support low carbon transition in developing countries, but negotiators have only just agreed where its headquarters will be – in South Korea – and it is still not clear where the US$100 billion a year will come from.

“While the last COP at Durban made great progress towards a new mandate, it left a time bomb in the form of the wording of the agreement, which calls for ’a process to develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force’. No one is quite sure what this means and the lack of clarity is sure to muddy the negotiating process,” said Yvo de Boer, KPMG’s Special Advisor on Climate Change & Sustainability.

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