UN climate talks: key points

11th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

A UN climate conference ended on Sunday with a raft of decisions aimed at rolling back greenhouse-gas emissions and helping poorer countries cope with the impacts of changing weather systems.

Here are the key elements of what has now become the Durban Package:


The central achievement of the Durban talks is the launch of a roadmap towards a global climate accord that will, for the first time, include all major emitters of greenhouse gases.

Up to now, No. 1 and No. 3 carbon polluters, China and India, have been exempt from any constraints because they are developing countries, while the No. 2 emitter, the United States, opted out of the Kyoto Protocol.

The new pact must be completed by 2015 and will go into effect from 2020.


At the 2009 Copenhagen Summit, developed nations committed to creating a Green Climate Fund that will disburse, by 2020, at least 100 billion dollars per year to help poorer nations fight and cope with climate change.

The Durban talks resolved problems on the Fund's design, but its coffers remain empty. A proposal to tax so-called "bunker fuel" from the global shipping industry gained some traction during the 14-day talks but in the end was not adopted.

Also unresolved is what portion of the funding should come from public sources -- the option preferred by developing countries -- and how much from the private sector.


The only international treaty to set down legally-binding curbs on carbon emissions was thrown a lifeline when the European Union (EU), Switzerland and Norway backed a new round of pledges for cutting C02 emissions.

Signed in 1997, the treaty's first round of pledges by some three dozen rich nations expires at the end of 2012.

Several nations -- Japan, Russia and Canada -- had made it clear going into the talks that they would not renew their Kyoto vows. New promises, they said, would make no sense when far bigger carbon polluters have no legal constraints.

Bidding for the support of developing countries for which Kyoto has iconic value, the EU declared it would, alone if need be, sign on for new pledges in exchange for the 2015 pact.

Whether the new round of commitments is for five or eight years will likely be decided at the middle of next year.


A push to make voluntary emissions-cutting efforts laid down last year during UN talks in Cancun, Mexico measurable, reportable and verifiable -- "MRV", in UN climate-speak -- made virtually no headway.

A common accounting framework for developed countries, and eventually for emerging economies, is considered an essential core element of the fight against climate change.

Progress has been stymied by a reluctance by developing countries to be subject to the same scrutiny as developed ones under the UNFCCC's two-tier system of accountability.

Rich countries say that emerging giants will account for the lion's share of emissions in the future, which means the "MRVs" have to be credible. The United States, in particular, is insisting on common standards in oversight.

© 2011 AFP

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