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UN climate talks open: Kyoto Protocol and aid top bill

Published on 28/11/2011

A 12-day round of UN talks on climate change got underway in Durban on Monday, with the task of determining the future of the Kyoto Protocol and pushing ahead with aid for poor, vulnerable countries.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) gathers 194 countries under a process launched under the 1992 Rio Summit.

South African President Jacob Zuma and Chad president, Idriss Deby Itno, attended the opening ceremony for the talks which will end with a high-level meeting of ministers.

Topping the agenda is the fate of the Kyoto Protocol, the only global pact that sets targets for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, whose current roster of pledges expires at the end of 2012.

The conference must also push ahead with a “Green Climate Fund” that would channel up to 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to countries most exposed to drought, flood, storms and rising seas, which scientists predict will worsen this century.

“In a scarce two weeks we must deliver results,” said Mexico’s Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa Castellano, who presided over the previous round of negotiations held last year in Cancun, Mexico.

“There are millions of people — mostly in poor and developing countries — that depend on our decisions.”

But the mood at the talks has been soured by a rift over how to share out the burden of emissions curbs and the world’s economic crisis is casting a shadow over climate fund.