Temporary extension of the Kyoto Protocol and relationship with the flexible mechanisms

Briefing paper

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Date produced: 22/03/2010

Since the UNFCCC Conference held in Copenhagen in December 2009, there has been some talk of a ‘potential transition period’ in which the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is temporarily extended for 2 or 3 years in order to give additional time for a second formal commitment period to be agreed between the parties to the Kyoto Protocol.

This briefing note examines, from a legal perspective, the alternative ways of achieving this temporary extension (other than by way of formal amendment to the Kyoto Protocol) and evaluates the pros and cons of such methods. In particular, this notes looks at provisional application of an amendment, a ‘gentleman’s agreement’, a CMP decision and unilateral declarations.

Additionally, and assuming an extension (other than by formal amendment), this note looks at whether such an extension would cause compatibility issues in relation to the flexible mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol.