High Expectations on Durban

Posted on November 29, 2011 by

As we all know the 17th Conference of Parties (COP) is meeting at Durban to channelize our efforts to mitigate dangerous climate change. Most of us are expecting a package of agreements that clearly articulate a positive path forward for the planet. The whole session will revolve around two very crucial points that will be the backbone of the Durban talks.  These are – the continuation of the Kyoto protocol including discussions on continuation of second commitment period and the future of CDM, Green Climate Fund and Clean technology transfer.

The Kyoto Protocol was a landmark agreement established in 1997 on the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.” However, the lack of commitment by major polluters has raised questions as to the effectiveness of the protocol. Signatories argued that without the world’s major emitters committing themselves to reduction targets, mitigation efforts taken by other countries would have insignificant impact on the overall outcome.

The debate to continue the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012 had been on for some years. However, it was the Cancum talks that laid down the roadmap for a possible second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. The meeting at Cancum eventually failed to reach a consensus but it did paved the way for the current Durban conference where the fate of the Kyoto Protocol, the only internationally binding accord on climate mitigation, will be decided.

What decisions will be taken at the Durban conference?

  • Second Kyoto Protocol commitment period – A strong mandate is needed to reach agreement on a comprehensive, fair, ambitious and legally binding agreement.
  • Green Climate Fund – Durban discussion must ensure that the Fund is properly capitalized as soon as possible. This includes agreeing on a trajectory to ramp up financing towards the 2020 goal of $100 billion of climate financing per year in support of developing countries. COP should give directions to the IMO and ICAO on creating mechanisms for raising funds from international marine and aviation transport that reduced emissions and result in no net incidence on developing countries.
  • LULUCF – Annex 1 countries are proposing to hide forestry emissions and largely not account for emissions from other land uses. This leaves the big questions on the integrity of the Kyoto Protocol. The final decision on this proposal is expected to be made at Durban.

COP 17 –Some news directly from the Durban

  • On November 4, the US Department of Energy reported that 2010 saw the biggest-ever increase in global warming emissions – a nearly 6% year-on-year rise from 8.6 billion tons to 9.1 billion tons, as countries turned to cheap and plentiful coal to meet energy needs. In spite of this news The US refused to join the Kyoto Protocol, arguing it did not impose any obligation on China.
  • Canada may exit Kyoto next month. Canada has not responded to requests for comments, but observers said it should either deny or confirm the rumours. Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent already told parliament last week he would not sign a document in Durban which will extend the Kyoto targets. In spite of this news, European Union delegation chief Tomasz Chruszczow said Canada’s withdrawal would not affect the talks on a second commitment period for the treaty. (Read more here)
  • Canada, Japan and Russia have already refused to sign a second commitment period, objecting to the lack of legal constraints on the world’s biggest carbon polluters. Europe says it can accept a continuation, provided China and the US show they are serious about major cuts in the coming years.

References: COP 17 official website, Climate Action Network at the UNFCCC, ECO

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