After two weeks of negotiations at COP17, the delegates in South Africa have finally made a deal on climate change after talks overran for hours. Charlotte Reid has more.
It was predicted before the climate talks in South Africa that no agreement would be made to extend the Kyoto Protocol. Yet on the last day, Friday December 9th, discussions continued. In fact, they overran by 36 hours until a deal was made.
Countries including China and the US have agreed to implement a new climate treaty, with talks on a new legal deal beginning in 2012 and continuing until 2015, to come in place in 2020. A climate fund has been established that will help out poorer countries, but plans on how to raise the money are yet to be finalised.
Meanwhile Canada has decided, after rumours throughout the conference, to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol.
Energy and climate change secretary, Chris Huhne, called it “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.”
However, there are some who say that the agreement is too little too late.
Keith Allott, head of the WWF’s climate team, said that enough was done “to salvage a path forward for further negotiations” but more still needs to be done.
“We shouldn’t be under any illusion – the outcome of Durban leaves us with the prospect of being legally bound to a world of 4C warming. That would be catastrophic for people and the natural world.”
Kumi Naidoo, the executive director of Greenpeace, said that Governments leaving South Africa should be “ashamed“. He criticised loopholes in the deal and the fact that the deal won’t be brought in until 2020 “leaving almost no room for increasing the depth of carbon cuts in this decade when scientists say we need emissions to peak“.
As developing countries are already feeling the effects of climate change it was felt that Durban didn’t do enough to help those countries adapt here and now. Before the conference started, the developing countries were annoyed at the lack of urgency in these types of talks so were planning to protest at the talks to highlight this. Even the former President of Costa Rica, José María Figueres, was calling for those worst affected by climate change to occupy the COP17 talks.
Just before the talks were to come to an end, there was still more stalling as India, Canada and the US were not keen to make any agreements. Ban Ki-Moon, UN chief, said that an agreement in Durban “may be beyond our reach – for now”.
Overall, the result of the talks in Durban have been seen as an achievement, mostly by getting all the countries to agree to something, yet it may not be enough. It is still argued that the world’s leaders are not working quickly enough before time runs out for us and for the planet.
Some practical steps that you can take yourself would be to speak to your financial adviser, or let us find one for you through our online form, switch to renewable energy and there is still time to make your Christmas as ethical as possible.