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Did Durban Deliver?

January 4, 2012

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The continuation of the Kyoto Protocol was an important part of the Durban negotiations as the Kyoto Protocol, which was adopted in 1997 but entered into force only in 2005 and binds 37 industrialized countries with emissions reduction targets from 2008-2012 is due to expire. In Durban, 35 industrialized countries agreed a second commitment period (CP2) to begin 1 January 2013 and Annex I Parties will increase their levels of ambition by submitting new “quantified emission limitation or reduction objective” (QELROs) by 1 May 2012.

The most likely success at Durban was the decision on the Green Climate Fund. The Fund, agreed on in Cancun last year, is to provide adequate, long-term financing of up to US $100 billion by 2020 for developing countries in addition to existing financial mechanisms such as the Global Environment Facility, Fast-Start Finance, Adaptation Fund and other special funds. However, issues to be resolved include the need to secure funding toward initial capitalization and replenishment, conferring juridical personality and legal capacity to the Fund and the selection of a 24 member Board, host country and trustee of the Fund.

Issues on mitigation and adaptation were negotiated under the auspices of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA), which is due to be terminated by COP18 in Doha, Qatar. Enhanced action will then be examined under a newly launched Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, which shall start its work as a matter of urgency in the first half of 2012 and complete its work no later than 2015 in order to adopt the new Protocol to be applicable to all Parties.

New market-based mechanisms will be developed to complement the existing Clean Development Mechanism and Durban also decided to fully operationalize the Technology Mechanism which was established in Cancun the year before. The Technology Mechanism comprises a Technology Executive Committee (TEC) and a Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN).

In all, Durban seemed to make progress following the lackluster results of the COP15 Copenhagen meetings the year before, and taking into account the high benchmarks for collective climate action were set in Cancun last year. Despite this, in order to avoid runaway climate change and its adverse effects, many still feel that the pace of negotiations should be accelerated in line with scientific evidence.

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