UN Climate summit in Durban ends with last minute deal

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UN Climate summit in Durban ends with last minute dealSecretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement today, welcomed the set of decisions reached by countries at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, saying they represent a significant agreement that will define how the international community will address climate change in the coming years.

After extended negotiations over the weekend, the 194 parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed on a package of decisions, known as the Durban Platform, which include the launch of a protocol or legal instrument that would apply to all members, a second commitment period for the existing Kyoto Protocol and the launch of the Green Climate Fund.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson Mr. Ban said the new accord is “essential for stimulating greater action and for raising the level of ambition and the mobilization of resources to respond to the challenges of climate change.”

Mr. Ban also welcomed the agreement to establish a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, stating it will “increase certainty for the carbon market and provide additional incentives for new investments in technology and the infrastructure necessary to fight climate change.”

In addition, Mr. Ban said he was gratified that countries reached decisions to implement the Cancun Agreements, which were created at last year’s conference in Mexico. The new measures include setting up a Technology Mechanism that will promote access by developing countries to clean, low-carbon technologies, and establishing an Adaptation Committee that will coordinate adaptation activities on a global scale.

Mr. Ban also welcomed the launch of the Green Climate Fund and said he was gratified that a number of countries signalled their intent to contribute to it. The Fund was created last year to help developing nations protect themselves from climate impacts and build their own sustainable futures, but had not been launched yet, and Mr. Ban had urged developed countries throughout the two-week conference to inject the necessary capital to kick-start it.

“Taken together, these agreements represent an important advance in our work on climate change,” Mr. Ban said, calling on countries to “quickly implement these decisions and to continue working together in the constructive spirit evident in Durban.”

Jo Leinen, Chair of the EU Parliament delegation to the summit (COP 17), said “The agreement reached at UN climate talks in Durban is a breakthrough that must be followed by firm action.”

He commented, “The world has achieved a major breakthrough in the fight against climate change. The EU deserves credit for drawing up a roadmap for all nations to respond to their relative responsibilities.

The successful talks must now lead to effective action. There is still a gigatonne gap between the emission-reduction measures that have been promised and those that are needed. If an international deal will only take effect in 2020, the agreed target to limit warming to two degrees will be in serious danger.”

“The world’s poorest will be hardest hit by climate change and it is highly symbolic that agreement is reached in Africa. The Green Climate Fund must play a vital role once it filled through firm commitments and innovative sources, such as a financial transactions tax.”

The EU and all major economies must now play their part. It is more important than ever that Europe takes the lead in the green technology race and works towards a low-carbon economy.”

Karl-Heinz Florenz, Vice-Chair of the EU Parliament delegation, added, “The EU’s climate diplomacy has worked. The world has changed and it is right to define developing and developed countries according to the new realities. I welcome that China has shown it wants to take on new responsibilities and play a new role in the world. We all need to intensify our efforts because much remains to be done.”

Photo by the UN – The United Nations Climate Change Conference, Durban 2011.

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