16 Dec 2011 - International Climate Action
International climate news from the UK Government
- This week..
With the successful conclusion of the Durban Climate Summit just behind us we look back on what was achieved over the last two weeks, what this means going forward and how the outcomes were received.
- The UN climate talks in South Africa have been heralded a success after a climate change deal was struck in the early hours of Sunday morning.194 parties have spent two weeks in Durban discussing how to cut emissions to limit global temperature rise to below two degrees to avoid dangerous climate chang
In a major realignment of support, well over 120 countries formed a coalition behind the EU’s high ambition proposal of a roadmap to a global legally binding deal to curb emissions. African states together with the least developed countries such as Bangladesh and Gambia, and small island states vulnerable to rising sea levels, like the Maldives, joined with the EU to put forward a timetable which would see the world negotiate a new agreement by 2015 at the latest.
Main achievements include: Achieving global agreement on a roadmap to a legally binding deal, a second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol to be agreed next year and a Green Climate Fund to be set up.
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said:
“This is a significant step forward in curbing emissions to tackle global climate change. For the first time we’ve seen major economies, normally cautious, commit to take the action demanded by the science.
“The EU’s proposal for the roadmap was at the core of the negotiations and the UK played a central role in galvanising support. This outcome shows the UNFCCC system really works and can produce results. It also shows how a united EU can achieve results on the world stage and deliver in the UK’s best interests.
'A clear and vital step'
- Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne, who led the UK delegation at COP17 in Durban, gave a statement to the House of Commons on Monday 12 December on the outcomes of the Conference.
"After the disappointment of Copenhagen, last year’s Cancun conference showed that the UN climate process was back on track. The Durban conference was designed to build on that outcome, and our aims were therefore higher.
"At our most optimistic, we hoped to agree a roadmap to a new global legally binding agreement, to replace or supplement the Kyoto Protocol.
"Unlike Kyoto, this would incorporate emissions targets for all countries other than the poorest and least developed.
"This would be accompanied by agreement to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol from 2013. We also aimed to encourage countries to strengthen their voluntary pledges to reduce emissions in the years before any new agreement entered into force, and we hoped to establish the Green Climate Fund.
"Mr Speaker, I am pleased to say that, following two weeks of intense negotiations, we achieved each of these aims."
"The Durban conference represents a significant step forward.
"It has re-established the principle that climate change should be tackled through international law, not through national voluntarism.
"It has persuaded the major emerging economies to acknowledge, for the first time, that their own emissions commitments will have to be legally bound.
"It has encouraged all countries, also for the first time, to admit that their current climate policies must be strengthened.
"It has established the Green Climate Fund to support the poorest countries in tackling and responding to climate change.
"And it has preserved the invaluable legal framework of the Kyoto Protocol, while at the same time opening the path to a new, more comprehensive and more ambitious global agreement. It was a clear success for international cooperation."
You can read the statement in full on the DECC Website.
Reactions to Durban
Christine Figures UNFCCC executive secretary
"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."
Connie Hedegaard, European commissioner for climate action
"[The] 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. "
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."
Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa
"The outcome in Durban is a coup for Africa. Issues that had taken so long to resolve have been resolved on our soil. We are very happy and proud of the South African team that worked so hard with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to make Durban succeed."
Ruth Davis, Greenpeace UK chief policy advisor
"The political signal delivered by Durban is more powerful than the actual substance of the agreement. A new progressive alliance of over one hundred vulnerable countries, backed by the European Union, demonstrated that there's massive appetite for an ambitious legally binding climate deal covering all the major polluters. Such a deal moved a small step closer in Durban, with agreement to negotiate towards it in 2015."
Keith Allott, Head of Climate Change at WWF-UK
"It's good that the UK and EU have aligned themselves with this coalition, but Europe must urgently convince the world that it is serious by increasing the ambition of its painfully weak emissions target for 2020 to at least 30% below 1990 levels. By doing so, the EU would actually benefit its own economy - saving billions on imported fossil fuels and creating the springboard for green growth and new green jobs."
Achim Steiner, UNEP executive director
"The outcomes of Durban provide a welcome boost for global climate action. They reflect the growing, and in some quarters unexpected, determination of countries to act collectively. This provides a clear signal and predictability to economic planners, businesses and investors about the future of low-carbon economies."
Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Director of the Corporate Leaders' Group on Climate Change
"Hundreds of businesses have articulated the urgent need for international action on climate change. With this agreement, the result of long and detailed negotiations, governments have shown what is possible. However there is still a long way to go and keeping the world below the threshold of 2˚C warming remains a real challenge that cannot be put off till 2020."
Nick Mabey, Chief Executive E3G
Despite the euro-zone crisis, the EU, alongside progressive developing and vulnerable countries, brokered a deal in Durban. Durban is not a final victory but it is a real opportunity. We now have to work intensively towards the 2015 deadline to mobilise the political will needed to permanently reduce the risk of catastrophic climate change to safe levels.”
If not 2009, why 2015?
- Economist Hannah Ryder blogs on the differences between the UN Climate Summits in Copenhagen in 2009, and this year in Durban:
"The phrase “the benefit of hindsight” has been ringing in my ears as I’ve been reading the reports from the close of the Durban climate negotiations late on Saturday night. In particular, it’s been ringing in my ears as I read that we’re now aiming to get a global deal in 2015. The question I’ve been asking myself is – if we got it so wrong in 2009 for a global deal in Copenhagen, why would we manage to do so in 2015?"
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