COP 17 climate talks set to intensify

2 December 2011

The first week of the annual UN climate change summit is usually a relatively sedate affair, and COP 17 in Durban has not been an exception.

But with the six panels wrapping up their discussions on Saturday ahead of the high-level segment involving ministers and heads of state, next week will see the start of an intense debate on what the global path to addressing the effects of climate change should be.

At least 12 heads of state and 130 government ministers from around the world are expected to join the talks next week.

‘Progress on several issues’

The UN reported on Friday that major progress had been made on several issues, including the structure of the adaptation package agreed on in Cancun, Mexico last year, finance and technology.

Negotiators were, however, still locked behind closed doors hammering out possible solutions to the complex debate around the Kyoto Protocol and the Green Climate Fund.

Developing countries are pushing for a second commitment period for the Protocol, which was signed in 1997, committing industrialised nations to measurable emission reduction targets. Earlier this week, Canada became the first developed country to give an indication that it was no longer interested in the Protocol.

Major economies, which include the United States and Japan, are refusing to commit.

Kyoto Protocol in the balance

UNFCCC executive secretary Christiana Figueres could not confirm reports on Friday that there was a stalemate on the protocol as reported, say the ministers’ session next week would provide direction on the future of the treaty.

“As you know, the issue of the Kyoto Protocol is a very crucial issue and central for Durban and discussions are taking place,” Figueres said.

She said governments had ample time over the coming weekend to go through a list of proposals which, among others, include the structure of the adaptation package, technology transfer and mitigation plans.

The European Union said it was in favour of the new term of commitment to the Protocol, but has attached conditions to this.

Figueres said South African International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, in her capacity as COP 17 president, had also started consultations on the EU’s position.

Russia has also 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 emission compared with major economies.

Source: BuaNews