Durban Climate Change


The most notable outcome of the Durban Summit was the "Durban Platform For Enhanced Action". This commits governments around the world to develop "a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, that would ultimately be applicable to all participating parties".

This has to be agreed upon by no later than 2015 and be implemented by 2020.

The major setback, however, from the Durban Summit is that it only commits governments to try and reach agreement on a new treaty by 2015 that will only take effect by 2020. The risk is that governments, whilst they may promise to reach deals, may not reach consensus within the agreed timeframes.

Similarly, the advocates who are staunch about keeping the global temperature rise to less than 2oC (the acknowledged threshold for avoiding dangerous climate change), warn that global emissions need to peak and decline by the middle of this decade. An agreement that only comes into force at the end of the decade won't help with that - a substantial limitation on what anyone can claim about Durban.


The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol containing emission reduction targets for developed countries (excluding the United States of America) is due to expire at the end of 2012. Developing countries have led the call for a second commitment period to be agreed, with a new round of targets for the developed world.

The Durban Summit did reach agreement that there will be a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, beginning in 2013 and ending in either 2017 or 2020.

However, the only group of countries to commit to targets under this protocol was Europe, with the EU listing its existing pledge to reduce emissions by 20% to 30% by 2020, Norway by 30% to 40%, Switzerland by 20% to 30% and the Ukraine by 20%.

Most of the other developed countries - the United States, Canada, Japan and Russia - announced that they would not take part. Indeed, as soon as the conference ended, Canada pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol entirely.

In essence, this means that by 2013 Kyoto will only cover about 15% of global emissions and even then will include no new commitments.

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