Building capacity to help Africa trade better

The outcome of the climate change negotiations in Durban 28 Nov – 9 Dec 2011


The outcome of the climate change negotiations in Durban 28 Nov – 9 Dec 2011

Willemien Viljoen, tralac Researcher, discusses the outcomes of the Durban Climate Change Conference

The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (CMP 7) to the Kyoto Protocol was held in Durban, South Africa from 28 November to 9 December 2011. There has been a mixed response to the outcome of the these negotiations: while the majority of the negotiators see decisions made on a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol and the implementation of the Green Climate Fund as a successful outcome for the climate change negotiations, civil society groups have been less optimistic; seeing the Durban decisions as a compromise which saved the climate talks, but endangered human life by agreeing to only reach a binding climate change deal by 2015 which will take effect by 2020. According to various civil society groups the lack of Durban negotiations to reach a legally binding agreement can lead to a rise in global temperatures by more than the 2 degrees Celsius threshold due to the delay of necessary climate change mitigation and adaptation action by the major greenhouse gas emitting countries.

Irrespective of whether the outcome of the Durban climate talks is seen as an overall success, it is significant that the negotiations did conclude with decisive outcomes on the Kyoto Protocol, mitigation and adaptation action and financial and technical support to developing and least developed countries. Governments have agreed to the following:

  • To adopt a universal legal agreement on climate change as soon as possible, but no later than 2015. Work on the legal agreement will be undertaken immediately by the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action;

  • A second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol which will start on 1 January 2013 and end either 31 December 2017 or 31 December 2020. The end date will be established by the Ad Hoc Working Group on Future Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol at its 17th session. 35 industrialised countries, excluding Canada and Japan agreed to the second commitment period. Countries will turn their economy-wide targets into qualified emission limitations or reduction objectives which need to be submitted for review by May 2012.

  • A web-based registry to record the mitigation actions of developing countries which seeks financial support and match these actions with the required support;

  • The establishment of a forum and work programme on the unintended consequences of climate change actions and policies;

  • Carbon-capture and storage projects under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol. This includes projects to capture and transport carbon dioxide from anthropogenic sources of emissions and the injection of the captured carbon into an underground geological storage sites for long-term isolation from the atmosphere;

  • Development of a new market-based mechanism to assist developed countries in meeting their targets and commitments under the Convention;

  • The implementation of the Green Climate Fund. Countries (Republic of Korea, Germany and Denmark) have already pledged to contribute to the start-up costs of the fund so that it will be ready for distribution in 2012. The Fund will be governed and supervised by a Board consisting of 24 members, represented equally between developed and developing countries. The 12 members from developing countries will consist of three members and alternate members from Asia-Pacific; three members and alternate members from Africa; three members and alternate members from Latin America and the Caribbean; one member and alternate member from Small Island Developing States; one member and alternate member from LDC parties and one member from developing country parties not included in the regional groups. Provision is also made for one alternate member to rotate between developing country parties included in the regional groupings. Governments have also agreed on a focused work programme for long-term finance.

  • The creation of the Adaptation Committee composed of 16 members which will report to the Conference of the Parties. The function of the Committee is to improve coordination and adaptation actions on a global scale. This includes better protection for the most vulnerable countries against loss and damage caused by extreme weather conditions related to climate change;

  • The Technology Mechanism will become fully operational in 2012. Countries adopted a work programme on the impact of the implementation of response measures under the subsidiary bodies with the objective of improving the understanding of the impact of the implementation of response measures. The work programme includes sharing information and expertise; assessments and analysis of economic diversification and transformation; economic modelling and socio-economic trends; just transition of the work force and the creation of decent work and building collective and individual learning towards a transition to a low greenhouse gas emitting society. A forum on the impact of the implementation of response measures was also established. The forum will be covered by the Chairs of the subsidiary bodies, meeting twice a year in conjunction with the sessions of the subsidiary bodies. The first meeting will take place at the thirty-sixth session of the subsidiary bodies.

The next round of climate change talks, COP 18 and CMP 8 will be held in Qatar from 26 November to 7 December 2012.



UNFCCC (http://unfccc.int/meetings/durban_nov_2011/meeting/6245.php)


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