The New York Times reported late yesterday that the 17th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Durban, South Africa ended on Sunday with a promise for countries to work toward a new climate treaty, extending the Kyoto Protocol until countries can reach an agreement. According to The Hill’s Energy and Environment Blog, “The agreement requires countries to develop a new treaty by 2015 that would go into effect by 2020.” According to The New York Times, the agreement also “begins a process for replacing the Kyoto agreement with something that treats all countries — including the economic powerhouses China, India and Brazil — equally,” a perennial sticking point between developed and developing countries, and largely the reason why the United States refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.
Beyond the agreement to work towards a new climate treaty, international delegates did agree to establish a Green Climate Fund, which The New York Times reports will “help mobilize a promised $100 billion a year in public and private financing by 2020 to assist developing countries in adapting to climate change and converting to clean energy sources.” The fund could play a significant role in helping vulnerable countries adapt to the impacts of climate change and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by transitioning them away from total reliance on carbon-intensive energy sources.
Opinions appeared to be mixed about the outcome of the Durban climate talks. Observers lamented that “the actions taken at the meeting, while sufficient to keep the negotiating process alive, would not have a significant impact on climate change,” The New York Times reported. Meanwhile, The Hill reports that “Climate advocates were pleased that the Durban deal paves the way for big developing nations including China, now the world’s largest emitter, to face binding commitments.” Others noted that countries now more than ever need to take action back at home, especially given recent warnings from the International Energy Agency and the UN’s World Meteorological Organization that the world could be just a few years away from a dangerous climate tipping point.
The bottom line appears to be that the UN climate negotiating process remains intact, yet countries should be prepared for the possibility that international negotiations will remain deadlocked in the years ahead. As a result, countries should take independent steps to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions while preparing for a future where climate change could cause disruptions to existing political, economic, environmental and social trends. Being prepared to adapt to climate change will undoubtedly require governments to begin or continue refining climate impact assessments in order to better understand how climate change may affect their country.
This Week’s Events
This morning at 9 AM, the George Washington University’s Elliot School will host Nuclear Policy Talks: The Importance of the National Laboratories.
On Tuesday beginning at 8:15 AM, head over to the New America Foundation for The Resource Revolution. Then at 11:45 AM, the Hudson Institute will host Climate Policy Holy Wars: Clashing Secular Religions and Stubborn Economic Realities. At 2 PM, the Institute for Policy Studies will have a teleconference on Land Grabs in Africa and Global Investment. At 3 PM, head over to Carnegie for The Future of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
On Wednesday at 10 AM, the National Press Club will host U.S. Solar Industry Leaders: Extending Renewable Energy Program and the Overall State of the Solar Industry.
Finally on Friday at 12 PM, the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies will have an event on European Energy Security: Achievements, Shortcomings, and Potential Improvements.