2012 is around the corner. This will be the year the Kyoto Protocol that regulated greenhouse gas emissions for the 2008-2012 period will expire; a successor will therefore have to be found, at least for the 2013-2017 period. But what will Kyoto-2, also called post-Kyoto, be like? This is what is being discussed during the international negotiations that have already begun.
Negotiations are running late because diplomats preferred not to make any decisions before 2008 and the arrival of a new American administration that would be more favourable to tackling the problem. This is why the Copenhagen summit in December 2009 is seen as the last chance to reach an agreement within a timeframe that will avoid the Kyoto Protocol regime being interrupted.
What commitments will be made and what concrete tools will be used to make sure they are kept? What restrictive measures will be put in place? This is another major issue of the agreement since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) does not set out any real targets.
Many questions remain unanswered: will big industrialized countries commit themselves to reducing their emissions again and will they also agree to increase the effort as is necessary? Will the USA finally join the process? Will emergent countries (China, India, etc) accept to do the same thing? How will the fight against deforestation be funded? How will the good functioning of the CO2 market be ensured? How will developing countries be involved and how will technology transfer be encouraged?
What will happen if this fails? It is possible that no agreement will be signed or that a weak text, with very few concrete commitments will be the only outcome. In this case, a lot of energy will have been wasted. But it does not stop there: global warming will keep getting worse and every day, the need for action will be even more palpable.