The discussion on one of the most ambiguous and nervous negotiation issues – on transfer of greenhouse gases emission quotas – will continue at the international climate talks in Cancun today.

In fact, climate negotiators do have what to be nervous about; quotas for 11 Gt of CO2-equivalent which Russia and Ukraine keep permissions for may both push the process of global emission reduction or destroy it totally.

Seemingly absurd transfer of quotas for further periods without any limitations is legally secured by the Kioto protocol. Russian delegation has repeatedly stated that “Russia has the right to transfer its quotas to the second period” and that “unused quotas will be used as a development reserve for the economy growth”. But if Russia’s emission cut obligation (25% to 2020 from 1990 level) is added with quotas, then the real figure becomes completely different. It’s then not minus 25% but rather minus 10 or even 5%.

If such a big amount of quotas are released to the carbon market (equal to Japan’s greenhouse gases emissions for 10 years) it will collapse. Many projects of real benefit will never be implemented. At the same time, economists believe that there are no buyers for so many quotas. However, de-facto and de-jure disagreement of the situation has not yet been solved in the negotiation process.

“Below 2C” believes that the best way out of the situation would be to abandon or strictly limit sale of quotas. Quotas should be allowed for ‘domestic use’ as a country’s input to the global emission cut process. This way, even an extraplanned emission reduction is a historically recorded long-term input of an individual state to the common climate situation on the planet. This input can be considered as a total emission amount for the period, for instance, of 60 years from 1990 to 2050.

In case of selling quotas, very serious limitations are needed. The percentage of quotas sold should be greatly, and voluntary, limited. For Russia, this figure must not exceed 1-3% of total quota, otherwise it will heavily damage emissions cut in other countries.

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