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Cover Stories Series 2011
UPDATED: November 22, 2011
The U.S. Says Kyoto Protocol Not on Its Durban Agenda

The Kyoto Protocol was not up for discussion for the United States in the new round of UN climate change talks in South Africa next week, a U.S. official said Tuesday.

"Kyoto is not on the table for the U.S," Todd Stern, the U.S. special envoy for climate change, told reporters at a press briefing. However, the U.S. "don't see the Kyoto being a logjam," Stern said.

The Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, sets binding targets for nearly 40 industrialized countries and the European Community for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 2008 to 2012. Its first commitment period ends on December 31, 2012.

The U.S., which is not a party to the Kyoto treaty, has proposed developing a new agreement that would require the world's large economies to cut their emissions under the same legally binding requirements as the U.S. and other large countries. "We wouldn't do it if all major economies weren't also part of it in quite a full way," Stern said.

"The regime of dealing with climate change in the international level has to open up and grow and include all major economies. And that's what started to happen in Copenhagen and happened more in Cancun," Stern said.

While answering questions from Xinhua about the duel-track negotiation mechanism, Stern said "the U.S. isn't one of the two tracks ... it's up to Kyoto parties to say what they want to do about Kyoto. The other track is that track that involves all parties ... That's the one we are in, that's the one we are the most focused on. I think whether in the future ... whether we will have two tracks is an open question. We will wait and see."

Stern also signaled he does not expect a legally binding agreement to cut greenhouse-gas emissions will be reached in South Africa. However, the U.S. are "committed to working with South Africa and our partners throughout the world to solve remaining open issues."

The upcoming UN climate conference is scheduled to be held in the South African city of Durban in late November to early December, when delegates from nearly 200 governments will negotiate further action to address climate change.

(Xinhua News Agency November 22, 2011)

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