Milestone agreement at COP-17 in Durban?
19 Dec 2011
After roughly 70 hours of round-the-clock negotiations (setting the record for the longest ever at a Conference of Parties (COP)), the 194 Parties of the UN climate negotiations reached an agreement. One day later Canada formally withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol.
The set of agreements reached in Durban were hailed as a milestone by some, and yet weak by others. At the centre, Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), ‘agreed to agree’ a new legally binding instrument by 2015. The agreement leaves plenty of wiggle room, as it is for a legally binding instrument, not legally binding targets.. It creates the space to roll back the separation of developed and developing countries whereby only developed countries undertake emissions reduction targets. Headline decisions taken during the COP-17 include:
- Durban Platform for Enhanced Action which mandates negotiations to 2015 for a “protocol, legal instrument, or an agreed outcome with legal force applicable to all Parties”
- second commitment period of Kyoto (only applicable for the EU, eastern European states and possibly New Zealand) to run from 2013
- the operationalization of the Green Climate Fund (first proposed in Copenhagen), with financing of $100bn by 2020
- operationalizing the Adaptation Committee and formulating the information for national adaptation plans
- agreeing the modalities and procedures of the Technology Executive Committee to assist technology development and transfer
- procedures for the measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) of emissions in both developing and developed countries to aid transparency
- final acceptance of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), through agreement of its modalities and procedures
- further CDM decisions aimed at increasing its scale and improving robustness
Notable areas where substantial agreement was not reached, and continue to be discussed are:
- A long-term shared vision for the process, including targets and timetables
- Whether to include, and how to manage, bunker fuels (from shipping and aviation) in the UNFCCC
- Revisions to the CDM including the appeals process and further moves towards programmatic or sectoral crediting