5 December 2011
As heads of state and government ministers start arriving in Durban for the UN climate talks, negotiators are hoping that, come end of the week, some kind of political compromise will have been reached to break the stalemate on a range of issues.
The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), currently taking place in Durban, is also the 7th meeting of parties to the Kyoto Protocol, which is due to expire at the end of 2012, unless renewed.
While UNFCCC executive secretary Christiana Figueres insisted at the weekend that progress had been made on many issues including adaptation, mitigation and finance, observers say serious political will is going to be needed to convince all developed countries to a second commitment of the contentious Kyoto Protocol.
High-level talks start Tuesday
The high-level segment of the conference, which starts on Tuesday, will also have to thrash out details of the Green Climate Fund, and the fast-start climate financing for poorer countries of US$30-billion for the period 2010-12 must also be finalized.
About 12 heads of state, including South African President Jacob Zuma, and more than 190 government ministers are expected to join the session, which is expected to go on into the late hours of Tuesday night.
South Africa will be using its allocated slot to call on the developed world to help the continent scale up its renewable energy option in its energy mix.
China ‘would accept legally binding deal from 2020’
Meanwhile, China, the world’s biggest carbon emitter, has joined some European countries in saying it would accept a legally binding climate deal in Durban that would come into force after 2020, but has placed conditions on this.
These included a renewal of carbon-cutting pledges by rich nations under the Kyoto Protocol, along with finance guarantees for poorer countries.
The EU supports a roadmap linked to the Kyoto Protocol, while Russia has proposed amendments to the convention to allow for a periodic revision of countries that are under certain obligations to cut emissions.
Currently, developing nations have fewer obligations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions compared with major economies.