Climate summit looks at weak deal

November 30th, 2011 - 10:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Durban, Nov 30 (IANS) The annual climate summit got into stride here Wednesday, with bureaucrats from 192 countries making some progress over the vexed issue of transferring green technologies to poor nations at cheap rates.

But the negotiators remained deadlocked on the most troubling issue of the extent to which each country should reduce its carbon emissions. At best, this summit could reach a weak agreement that would not help much in combating global warming, nor in adapting to its effects, delegates said.

The stalemate that has been going on for years continued to dog the Nov 28-Dec 9 summit of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in this South African port city, with developing nations insisting that rich countries be legally bound to reduce the emissions that are warming the world, and meeting with refusal from countries like Canada, Japan and Russia unless emerging economies make similar pledges.

At stake is the future of the Kyoto Protocol, which legally binds rich countries to reduce emissions, but whose first commitment period runs out in another year. Conference President Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South Africa’s minister for International Relations and Cooperation, said: “Durban will be the decisive moment for the Kyoto Protocol.”

Asked if it wasn’t high risk to stake conference success on negotiations that have been stalled for years, she replied: “I’m not the one saying this. Parties (countries) are saying it’s the only legal mechanism to fight climate change and we shouldn’t give it up. It’s particularly important for the CDM.” The CDM, or the Clean Development Mechanism, is the main source of money for green projects in many poor countries.

Nkoana-Mashabane said the other “central decisive step” she hoped to take here to improve people’s “resilience to climate change and a low carbon (development) path” was to limit global temperature rise “to a level the world can cope with”. At a previous UNFCCC summit, countries have decided to limit this rise to two degrees Celsius, but the minister did not refer to this number.

Current emission reduction pledges fall 40 percent short of this target, and Nkoana-Mashabane did say: “All party members should be worried about the low level of ambition” to combat global warming that is already affecting farm output, making droughts, floods and storms more frequent and more severe, and raising the sea level.

(Joydeep Gupta can be reached at joydeepgupta1@gmail.com)

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