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Climate agreement reached in Durban

Climate agreement reached in Durban

A climate agreement was reached at the UN climate talks in Durban. Delegates from 194 countries, after tense discussion, agreed on a second commitment period for Kyoto and decided to set up a new legally binding treaty on climate change that is to be implemented in 2020.

The UN Climate Change Conference 2011 took place in in Durban, South Africa and was scheduled to last 12 days, but was extended to almost 14. With the talks perpetually teetering on the verge of collapse, the agreement came only in the early hours of the last day.

In the end negotiators agreed to be part of a legally binding treaty to address global warming, the so called ‘Durban Platform for Enhanced Action’, the terms of which are to be defined by 2015. The treaty is to become effective in 2020.

The Durban treaty marks the first time that developing countries, including India and China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gas, have agreed to a legal obligation of lowering their emissions. The agreement will for the first time include also the United States of America that has never ratified the Kyoto protocol.

In the period leading up to the implementation of the new climate agreement, the Kyoto protocol that was set to expire at the end of 2012 will continue to remain in force, even though this second commitment period will not be ratified by all countries. The second phase of Kyoto, in place until the end of 2017, will thus include the European Union, but will not include Russia, Canada and Japan.

Also agreed in Durban was the establishment of a ‘Green Climate Fund’ to help poor countries tackle climate change, though the method of raising money remains unclear.

While participants in the conference are hailing the Durban agreement as a success, “saving tomorrow, today”, environmentalists warn that the negotiations have fallen short of what is needed, and that global emissions need to decline well before 2020 in order to prevent catastrophic climate change.
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