Did Durban Deliver Done Deal or Dud Deal?

Did Durban Deliver Done Deal or Dud Deal?

Countries have agreed a deal in
Durban to push for a new climate treaty, delivering a global, overarching legal
agreement to cut emissions – salvaging the latest round of United Nations
climate talks from the brink of collapse. But did it go far enough? Reactions
from around the world. Pictured is an exhibit at Durban where lights on a Christmas
tree are powered by people cycling and generating electricity.

John Vidal and Fiona Harvey for
The Observer (11 December 2011):

Countries have agreed a deal in
Durban to push for a new climate treaty, salvaging the latest round of United
Nations climate talks from the brink of collapse.

The UK’s climate change
secretary, Chris Huhne, hailed the deal, finally struck in the early hours of
Sunday after talks had overrun by a day and a half, as a “significant step
forward” that would deliver a global, overarching legal agreement to cut
emissions. He said it sent a strong signal to businesses and investors about moving
to a low-carbon economy.

But environmental groups said
negotiators had failed to show the ambition necessary to cut emissions by
levels that would limit global temperature rises to no more than 2C and avoid
“dangerous” climate change.

The EU had come to the talks in
Durban, South Africa, calling for a mandate to negotiate a new legally binding
treaty on global warming by 2015, covering all major emitters, in return for
the bloc signing up to a second period of emissions cuts under the existing
Kyoto climate deal.

But talks were plunged into
disarray after the EU clashed with India and China in a series of passionate
exchanges over the legal status of a potential new agreement, putting more than
a year of talks between 194 countries in jeopardy.

In the third consecutive
all-night session, exhausted ministers had more or less agreed on a series of
measures aimed at protecting forests, widening global markets and establishing
by 2020 a $100bn fund to help poorer countries move to a green economy and cope
with the effects of climate change. But the crucial issue at the talks was
whether a new agreement on protecting the climate should have full legal force.

Connie Hedegarrd, the EU climate
change commissioner, said she was prepared to offer developing countries the
prize they had sought for many years – a continuation of the Kyoto protocol,
the only treaty that commits rich countries to cut greenhouse gases. But the
price of the offer was for all nations to agree to be “legally bound”
to a new agreement by 2020. There were cheers as she said: “We need
clarity. We need to commit. The EU has shown patience for many years. We are almost
ready to be alone in a second commitment period [to the Kyoto protocol] We
don’t ask too much of the world that after this second period all countries
will be legally bound.”

But the Indian environment
minister, Jayanthi Natarajan, responded fiercely: “Am I to write a blank
cheque and sign away the livelihoods and sustainability of 1.2 billion Indians,
without even knowing what the EU ‘roadmap’ contains? I wonder if this an agenda
to shift the blame on to countries who are not responsible [for climate change].
I am told that India will be blamed. Please do not hold us hostage.” As
countries clashed in the early hours of the morning, scenes in the conference
hall resembled a theatre, with wild applause bursting out sporadically.

China’s minister Xie Zhenhua made
an impassioned speech backing India and accusing developed countries.
“What qualifies you to tell us what to do? We are taking action. We want
to see your action,” he said.

The fate of the talks were, by
2am, hanging on a knife edge, with no resolution likely for many hours. The
talks had already overrun by 36 hours.

A deal was reached after the
South African president of the talks urged the EU and India to go “into a
huddle” in the middle of the conference hall in the early hours of this
morning, in a bid to work out language both sides were happy with.

A compromise, suggested by the
Brazilian delegation, saw the EU and Indians agree to a road map which commits
countries to negotiating a protocol, another legal instrument or an “agreed
outcome with legal force”.

The treaty will be negotiated by
2015 and coming into force from 2020.

The deal also paves the way for
action to address the “emissions gap” between the voluntary emissions
cuts countries have already pledged and the reductions experts say are needed
to effectively tackle climate change.

Earlier Venezuela’s ambassador,
Claudia Salerno, had stood on a chair and banged her nameplate as she accused
the UN chair of the session of ignoring the views of some developing countries.
Referring to the money promised by rich countries to help developing countries
to adapt to climate change, she said: “This agreement will kill off
everyone. It is a farce. It is immoral to ask developing countries to sell
ourselves for $100bn.”

The row over the legal status of
a new agreement has dogged climate talks for over a decade. Rich countries have
wanted rapidly emerging economies such as like China – the world’s largest
emitter – and India to be equally legally bound as developed countries, though
taking on softer targets on emission curbs.

However, developing countries
argue that they were not responsible for the bulk of climate change emissions
in the atmosphere and argue that they have pledged to rein in their emissions
more than the developed countries.

Despite the broad backing of more
than 120 countries, including major developing economies such as Brazil, plus
the US and Japan, the EU had found it hard to push through its ambitious
“roadmap”, which would establish a new over-arching agreement that would
commit all countries to emission cuts.

China, India and some developing
countries had raised a series of objections throughout the talks about the
dates that the new treaty would become operational, and argued that the Kyoto
protocol would effectively be killed off before a replacement could be put in
its place. With Japan, Canada and Russia saying that they were unwilling to
sign up to a second period, the EU had become almost alone among developed
countries in committing to continue the protocol in some form.

Several countries said they
feared the deal on offer would suit the US most because it had always insisted
that all other countries should cut emissions and has resisted a
legally-binding agreement.

Several developing countries
spoke out strongly in favour of the EU proposals, including Brazil and
Colombia, rejecting calls to downgrade the legal status of any agreement.

Source: www.guardian.co.uk

Australian Conservation
Foundation announcement (11 December 2011):

Momentum builds in Durban: smart
countries take climate action

The agreements reached at the
climate negotiations just concluded in Durban will advance action on climate
but require strengthening over time, according to the Australian Conservation

Durban has succeeded in
establishing a Green Climate Fund with commitments of $100 billion and a
pathway for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. It has also taken
steps to establishing a 2015 timeline for a new global climate agreement, to include
the US, China and all major emitters.

‘While Durban has moved global
climate action forward, the world is in a race against time to avoid dangerous
climate change and all countries need to be more ambitious in cutting
emissions, and this needs to be a focus of the international effort now,’ said
Don Henry, CEO of ACF from Durban.

‘All countries agree that
pollution has to be cut to keep warming below 2 degrees, however countries’
commitments to cut pollution don’t achieve this and need urgent attention.’

‘In Durban many countries have
reiterated their national commitments to act to cut emissions with 33 countries
now introducing a price on pollution, just as our Parliament has recently

‘It demonstrates how smart
Australia has been in catching up with the growing number of nations that are
developing low carbon economies.’

‘The implementation of the Green
Climate Fund, which was a key element of last year’s successful Cancun
negotiations, will help developing nations foster low-carbon economies and
adapt to the impacts of climate change.’

‘The $243 billion invested in
clean technology in 2010 globally demonstrates that momentum is building,
however stronger action is needed.’

‘Australia also reached
agreements with the EU to link our carbon trading with their scheme, which will
greatly improve the effectiveness of our price on pollution.’

Source: www.acfonline.org.au

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