Climate Talks

December 11, 2011 by staff 

Climate Talks, U.N. climate change talks in Durban, South Africa, agreed a package of measures early on Sunday that would eventually force all the world’s polluters to take legally binding action to slow the pace of global changing.

After more than two weeks of intense talks, some 190 countries agreed to four main elements — a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, the design of a Green Climate Fund and a mandate to get all countries in 2015 to sign a deal that would force them to cut emissions no later than 2020, as well as a workplan for next year.

After the failure of Copenhagen in 2009 to come up with a new, internationally-binding deal, and only incremental progress a year later in Cancun, a partial legal vacuum had loomed as drafting a new U.N. treaty is extremely time-consuming.

Sunday’s deal extends Kyoto, whose first phase of emissions cuts run from 2008 to the end of 2012. The second commitment period will run from January 1 2013 until the end of 2017.

There was agreement on extending Kyoto for five years, but lawyers are going to have to work out how to align this with existing EU legislation.

Delegates agreed to start negotiations for a new legally binding treaty to be decided by 2015 and to come into force by 2020.

The process for doing so, called the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, would “develop a new protocol, another legal instrument or agreed outcome with legal force that will be applicable to all Parties to the UN climate convention,” under a working group.

The exact nature of what “legal instrument” or “agreed outcome” has not yet been decided.

Delegates decided the process towards developing a new legal instrument would “raise levels of ambition” in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

At the request of the EU and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the delegates agreed to launch a work plan to identify options for closing the “ambition gap” between countries’ current emissions reduction pledges for 2020 and the goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

However, the Durban negotiations did not manage to extend the emissions cut pledges made in both Copenhagen in 2009 and 2010 in Cancun.

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