1 December 2011
The dust is starting to settle at the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban after two days of drama following Canada’s announcement of its imminent breakaway from the Kyoto Protocol.
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.
‘Conducive’ for constructive engagement
COP 17 president and South Africa’s International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane moved on Thursday to allay fears that the Protocol could collapse, describing the environment at the Durban talks as “conducive” for constructive engagement.
There has been noticeable frustration among certain parties over the lack of clarity on the direction of the Kyoto Protocol, with the Africa group questioning the level of ambition and the European Union’s alleged reluctance to accept the principle of common but different responsibilities.
While UNFCCC executive secretary Christiana Figueres said there had been no formal talks about Canada’s position on the Protocol, it’s almost certain that the country will pull out of the treaty.
‘All we need here in Durban is leadership’
Nkoana-Mashabane said it was still too early to make any speculation about the Kyoto Protocol and how it would influence the overall outcome of Durban.
“National positions have been listened to, and all we need here in Durban is leadership, because that is what is going to define the results of COP 17 – leadership includes some kind of compromise on our part as leaders.”
She dismissed speculation of a standoff between the global north and south over the issue of the Protocol and finance.
The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement signed in 1997 setting targets for industrialised countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.
Green Climate Fund discussions begin
The US is among the countries that did not sign the agreement and has still not agreed to support the Green Climate Fund, which is aimed at making $100-billion available to developing countries by 2020 to help them mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.
Nkoana-Mashabane said a discussion on the fund was scheduled to begin on Wednesday afternoon.
Discussions earlier in the day focused on technology initiatives to promote climate-friendly growth, something negotiators are hoping to find a breakthrough on so it can start benefiting people as early as next year.
South Africa has made it clear that while it accepts its responsibility as the largest carbon emitter on the continent, it remains committed to implementing “green” economic policies – but developed countries will have to meet their legal obligations to provide financial support, capacity building and ensure technology development and transfer.
Nkoana-Mashabane said the adaptation framework agreed on in Mexico last year was also being ironed out in Durban.