Agreements reached at the 2011 UN Climate Summit

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After extending the conference by 36 hours, the delegates at the UN climate summit in Durban finally reached an agreement, which will not be viewed favourably by all countries affected. Despite the rhetoric of Ms. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, the president for the summit, the meeting exposed some problems on the horizon.

Delegates at the 2011 UN Climate Summit were very good at shaking hands, less good at coming up with solid agreements. Credit UNFCC.

Durban Climate Conference: Agreements Reached

After the perhaps meaningless, but certainly poetic, rhetoric from the summit president (“saving tomorrow, today”) the 2011 Durban Climate Summit finished with these few agreements.

  • Next year, when the current round of the Kyoto Protocol ends, talks will begin and end by 2015 with the objective of having emissions control agreements in place by 2020.
  • The management of a climate aid fund has also been agreed upon, although the source of financing remains undecided.

Durban: The Climate Objectives

Although it is generally recognized that the agreements would not of themselves lead to achievement of the 2C limit in global warming that governments have professed that they want, the agreements to “further talks” means that at least many governments accept that definite action is needed by both developing and developed countries. The Durban group’s agreements also accept the need for climate change to be tackled using the weight of international law.

As far as this writer understands it, the agreement does not represent much of a compromise between the European Economic community (EEC) and Alliance of Small Island states (AOSIS) countries on the one hand, and other large polluters (US, China, India, Brazil) on the other. Rather, the agreement satisfies more the requirements of the largest polluters in delaying decision-making until 2015.

The so-called “green fund” or climate-aid fund of some $100 billion per year is intended to help poor countries develop using clean technologies, thereby reducing their future carbon footprint.  By deciding how to spend its money before it has received it, the UN has, arguably, put the “cart before the horse”.

Page Two: Progress Made in the Climate Summit

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