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Klaus Esterluß | COP17

At mid-point in Durban

The COP17 climate conference in Durban is at mid-point and the prospects for success are not looking very bright. Since this weekend the political leaders have started to arrive to confront some of the problematic issues. There will probably be some compromises being worked out but fears remain that this won’t be enough to tackle the worsening climate situation.
The hottest topic of course is the future of the Kyoto Protocol. Though the developing countries have been fighting for the protocol’s survival it seems that some of the rich nations want, to say the least, some adjustments. Critics say, that they want to get rid of it. In last week’s talks, the European Union came up with some ideas to keep Kyoto alive, through a decision or a declaration. But for this, the EU wants to extract a huge concession, that all “major economies” agree to start negotiating for a new legally binding treaty that will take in effect in 2020. Problem is, that there is no definition of what a “major economy” is. Among developing countries one might think of those with a large population. But on a per-capita basis, they a still developing countries. And that’s the way the developing countries are looking at it. So it is not surprising that developing countries like China, Brazil or India are not interested in taking up talks about this issue. How this story of the Kyoto Protocol is going to end is hard to say. A quick death is unlikely. Especially given the protest this might arouse and the bad name this will give to those who bury it.
The Durban conference is also debating on how to put a new Green Climate Fund into operations. Disputes remain on the fund’s governance. If the is an agreement, it may be Durban biggest but also only visible success. But the are still a couple of more days to go.


December 5, 2011



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