Durban reaches historic deal
Governments agreed to second commitment period: read expert comments
Governments, including 38 industrialised countries, have agreed to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol from January 2013 as the COP17 drew to a close on early hours of Sunday morning.
After going into almost 24 hours of extra time, governments have decided to adopt a universal legal agreement on climate change no later than 2015.
The package of decisions known as the Durban Platform centred around adaption, green climate fund, technology and strategies to support developing countries. Work will begin on this immediately under a new group called the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action.
"I salute the countries who made this agreement. They have all laid aside some cherished objectives of their own to meet a common purpose - a long-term solution to climate change," said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Figueres said this is highly significant because the Kyoto Protocol's accounting rules, mechanisms and markets all remain in action as effective tools to leverage global climate action and as models to inform future agreements.
A significantly advanced framework for the reporting of emission reductions for both developed and developing countries was also agreed, taking into consideration the common but differentiated responsibilities.
Governments also agreed on the full implementation of the package to support developing nations, agreed last year in Cancun, Mexico.
"This means that urgent support for the developing world, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable to adapt to climate change, will also be launched on time," said Figueres.
The package includes the Green Climate Fund, an Adaptation Committee designed to improve the coordination of adaptation actions on a global scale, and a Technology Mechanism, which are to become fully operational in 2012.
"While it is clear that these deadlines must be met, countries, citizens and businesses who have been behind the rising global wave of climate action can now push ahead confidently, knowing that Durban has lit up a broader highway to a low-emission, climate resilient future," said Figueres.
The COP18/CMP8, will take place on 26 November to 7 December 2012 in Qatar, in close cooperation with the Republic of Korea.
Details of key decisions that emerged from COP17 include:
Green Climate Fund:
- Countries have already started to pledge to contribute to start-up costs of the fund, meaning it can be made ready in 2012, and at the same time can help developing countries get ready to access the fund, boosting their efforts to establish their own clean energy futures and adapt to existing climate change.
- A focussed work programme on long-term finance was agreed, which will contribute to the scaling up of climate change finance going forward and will analyse options for the mobilisation of resources from a variety of sources.
- The Adaptation Committee, composed of 16 members, will report to the COP on its efforts to improve the coordination of adaptation actions at a global scale.
- The adaptive capacities above all of the poorest and most vulnerable countries are to be strengthened. National Adaptation Plans will allow developing countries to assess and reduce their vulnerability to climate change.
- The most vulnerable are to receive better protection against loss and damage caused by extreme weather events related to climate change
Support of developing country action:
- The Technology Mechanism will become fully operational in 2012. The full terms of reference for the operational arm of the Mechanism - the Climate Technology Centre and Network - are agreed, along with a clear procedure to select the host. The UNFCCC secretariat will issue a call for proposals for hosts on 16 January 2012.
- Governments agreed a registry to record developing country mitigation actions that seek financial support and to match these with support. The registry will be a flexible, dynamic, web-based platform.
- Other key decisions:
- A forum and work programme on unintended consequences of climate change actions and policies were established.
- Under the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism, governments adopted procedures to allow carbon-capture and storage projects. These guidelines will be reviewed every five years to ensure environmental integrity.
- Governments agreed to develop a new market-based mechanism to assist developed countries in meeting part of their targets or commitments under the Convention. Details of this will be taken forward in 2012.
Said Professor Stefan Gossling tourism and climate change guru:
"The outcome indicates that for many years to come, global action will be postponed. By then it might be too late to engage in serious mitigation, as we will be increasingly locked into high-emission lifestyles. Which in turn means that we are now firmly on the road towards a +4°C future."
"As tourism will be one of the sectors to suffer most from climate change, I would encourage stakeholders to no longer wait for politics to resolve this, rather than to engage by themselves in emission audits and mitigation, ideally achieving cuts of at least 2% per year in absolute terms. Benefits should without question outweigh costs, not only in terms of resource savings, but also customer and employee loyalty."
Jim Leape, head of WWF International, said COP16 in Cancun last year, governments had agreed to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2°C. "But here in Durban, they have utterly failed to live up to that promise."
"EU's strategy worked. When many parties after Cancun said that Durban could only implement decisions taken in Copenhagen and Cancun, the EU wanted more ambition. And got more. We would not take a new Kyoto period unless we got in return a roadmap for the future where all countries must commit. Where the Kyoto divides the world into two categories, we will now get a system that reflects the reality of the today's mutually interdependent world. And as we are interdependent, what we promise to do must have the same legal weight. With the agreement on a roadmap towards a new legal framework by 2015 that will involve all countries in combating climate change, the EU has achieved its key goal for the Durban climate conference."
Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu, head of the Africa Group
"It's a middle ground, we meet mid-way. Of course we are not completely happy about the outcome, it lacks balance, but we believe it is starting to go into the right direction.
Ruth Davis, Greenpeace UK chief policy advisor
"This deal is a lot better than no deal, not least because it scuppers George Osborne's push to gut domestic environmental action on the altar of international inertia. That said, we can't keep coming back to these annual talks to agree deals that fall so far short of what the science, rather than the politics, requires. Every December the mismatch grows between what the world is committing to and what nations should be delivering. In the current vernacular, we're kicking the climate can down the road."
Murray Worthy, World Development Movement policy officer
"Developed countries have behaved shamefully, blocking meaningful progress on tackling climate change. They have refused to acknowledge their historical responsibility for the crisis, either by agreeing to reduce their emissions or by providing finance to help developing countries deal with climate change."
"These talks have been held hostage by the EU. It seems EU countries came to Durban to impose a deal, not negotiate one. The spectacular failure to achieve an outcome on the most urgent issues puts the world on course for devastating climate change, condemning those least responsible to greater hunger, poverty and ultimately, death."
"The Kyoto Protocol is now only a shadow of what it was and the second commitment period will be its last. There is nothing more than hope in a new deal to replace it, a deal that could well be based on the weak ineffective voluntary approach first put forward at Copenhagen, and that would come into force too late to have any chance of avoiding the most devastating impacts of climate change."
Valere is editor of the Sustainable Tourism Report Suite 2011 Get your copy at a special offer price: HERE
Tuesday, December 13, 2011