Introduction to Climate Change

10. The Post-Kyoto Negotiations

No sooner had the ink dried on the Kyoto Protocol than it became clear that significant ambiguities existed in the text of the Protocol that could lead to vastly different reduction requirements for the United States and other Annex I countries. With the clock already ticking toward the first reporting period of 2008, however, all of the Parties recognized some urgency in clarifying a unified interpretation of the Protocol.

In order to build the political momentum for an agreement and given the lesson of the Berlin Mandate, the Parties meeting in Buenos Aires in 1999 agreed to a 'Buenos Aires Workplan', which among other things set forth a negotiating schedule that would clarify all major ambiguities in the Kyoto Protocol by the Sixth Conference of the Parties (CoP-6), scheduled in late 2000 for the Hague. The United States and European Union could not bridge their remaining differences. The failure to reach consensus at the Hague was particularly important, because with the new year (2001) came a new US Presidency. It was clear that US policy toward climate change would change dramatically. In February 2001, everyone learned just how dramatically when President Bush unilaterally announced that the United States would not honor its commitment to support the Kyoto Protocol.