CLIMATE SPECTATOR: Why Durban matters

Those who say Durban climate talks were a failure are missing the big picture: it advanced several substantive agreements that together can make a critical impact.

Climate Spectator

There are a lot of complaints about the outcome of the UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa, since it ended Sunday, December 11 around 6am after a 36-hour extension. It’s not the lack of sleep from observers waiting for an outcome that has led to so much resentment, but instead the perception that at the end of the day nothing really happened. But this conclusion is far from the truth.

Not only did Durban produce a package of agreements essential for any hope of a meaningful contribution to mitigation and adaptation to climate change, but it also avoided a disaster that would have collapsed the careful bridge that has been built from a future chocked with carbon pollution to a global regime that can contribute something to climate safety.

Three separate, substantive agreements were advanced out of the Durban meeting: (1) an extension of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol set to expire in 2012, now continuing to 2017; (2) various implementation instruments and revisions for the 2009 Cancun Agreements, in particular the implementing agreement for the new Green Climate Fund; and (3) the creation of a new Durban Platform for Enhanced Mitigation starting a new negotiating track that must produce a legal agreement by 2015, which is later open for ratification.

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