What U.N. climate talks agreed in Durban

Sun Dec 11, 2011 8:22am EST

(Reuters) - U.N. climate change talks in Durban, South Africa, agreed a package of measures early on Sunday that would eventually force all the world's polluters to take legally binding action to slow the pace of global changing.

After more than two weeks of intense talks, some 190 countries agreed to four main elements -- a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, the design of a Green Climate Fund and a mandate to get all countries in 2015 to sign a deal that would force them to cut emissions no later than 2020, as well as a workplan for next year.

Details of the main points agreed on follow below. The final texts are available here: unfccc.int/2860.php


After the failure of Copenhagen in 2009 to come up with a new, internationally-binding deal, and only incremental progress a year later in Cancun, a partial legal vacuum had loomed as drafting a new U.N. treaty is extremely time-consuming.

Sunday's deal extends Kyoto, whose first phase of emissions cuts run from 2008 to the end of 2012. The second commitment period will run from January 1 2013 until the end of 2017.

There was agreement on extending Kyoto for five years, but lawyers are going to have to work out how to align this with existing EU legislation.


Delegates agreed to start negotiations for a new legally binding treaty to be decided by 2015 and to come into force by 2020.

The process for doing so, called the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, would "develop a new protocol, another legal instrument or agreed outcome with legal force that will be applicable to all Parties to the UN climate convention," under a working group.

The exact nature of what "legal instrument" or "agreed outcome" has not yet been decided.


Delegates decided the process towards developing a new legal instrument would "raise levels of ambition" in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

At the request of the EU and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the delegates agreed to launch a work plan to identify options for closing the "ambition gap" between countries' current emissions reduction pledges for 2020 and the goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

However, the Durban negotiations did not manage to extend the emissions cut pledges made in both Copenhagen in 2009 and 2010 in Cancun.


The Durban Package brings into operation new arrangements for making more transparent the actions taken by both developed and developing countries to address their emissions. This is a key measure for building trust between parties.


Poor nations are most in need of finance to help pay for adapting to global warming and introducing low emission energy and industrial processes.

Against the backdrop of a sovereign debt crisis, developed nations are also ill-placed to commit money beyond short-term financing that runs out at the end of next year.

The Durban talks made headway on agreeing the design of Green Climate Fund to channel up to $100 billion a year by 2020 to poorer nations, but achieved little on establishing where the money will come from to fill it.

A proposal last week to generate cash from charging international shipping for the carbon emissions it generates faced such opposition it did not survive in the final text.


Talks agreed to define new market mechanisms under a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol, but pushed forward a decision to develop rules for them until next year.

Delegates decided the mechanisms would operate under the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties and "bear in mind different circumstances of developed and developing countries."

The EU wants any new market mechanisms to cut greenhouse gas emissions outside of Kyoto anchored in international law, in order to avoid fragmentation of the international carbon market.

Parties will now work on developing a framework for new mechanisms over the next 12 months with a view to making recommendations at a summit in Qatar at the end of 2012.

The rules must ensure environmental integrity of new markets, seek to avoid double counting and ensure that a net decrease in CO2 emissions is achieved.


The Durban talks ended six years of debate over whether and how the technology of carbon capture and storage could qualify for carbon offsets under the Clean Development Mechanism.

The Kyoto scheme rewards governments or companies who invest in clean energy projects in developing countries with carbon credits, which they can trade and sell for profit.

The new rules force project developers to put five percent of the carbon credits earned in a reserve, to be awarded to them only after site monitors have proved that no carbon dioxide has leaked from the underground store 20 years after the end of the crediting period.


Delegates agreed to consider private funding and market-based mechanisms as options to finance the program on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, paving the way for billions of dollars of private investment.

Details will be discussed in the course of next year and it may still take years until the program takes off at a big scale.


The Durban meeting failed to breathe new life into Kyoto's Joint Implementation (JI) mechanism, as negotiators once again dodged a decision on whether to allow emission reduction projects to earn carbon credits under the scheme beyond 2012.

Like in Cancun last year, delegates agreed to delay a decision on whether to decouple the future of JI from that of Kyoto until next year's talks.

The postponement caused concern among some negotiators that a few nations with vast Kyoto emissions right inventories, would as a precaution ramp up offset issuance ahead of that.

(Reporting by Nina Chestney; Additional reporting by Agnieszka Flak)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (4)
Dragos111 wrote:
This needs to be ignored by the US. There is nothing more than money grabbing going on with this group.

Dec 11, 2011 9:56am EST  --  Report as abuse
BobC2012 wrote:
So more talks. Did the previous 2008 agreement have any effect whatsoever on the global climate…? Of course not. The real goal is to figure how to get countries called ‘rich’ to pony up vast sums for others under the hope of making a difference. That money would then be spread around special interests, friendly politicians and corrupt third world governments – having no impact except for giving those persons more power, wealth and influence.
We are supposed to support this under the misguided belief that we will somehow save the planet? George Orwell anyone??

Regardless of all this nonsense the climate will rise and fall normally as it has before the false hysteria. So, so transparent.

Dec 11, 2011 10:12am EST  --  Report as abuse
jeff21 wrote:
It seems that nothing can leak through the wall of climate-made-simple propaganda. First, each of the last 20 ice ages (and there are only 20 that can be studied) were preceeded by an interglacial of about 10K years duration. Each interglacial ended with a warming spike lasting about 2000 years. We are an the current interglacial has lasted 12k years we are exactly due for a glacial cycle. If you look at tree ring data we have been in a warming trend for the last 2000 years – interupted only by the mini ice age. This is solid data. The concept of the modle in science is that it is only as good as the assumptions. Estimates are that a 0.1% increase in solar radiaton causes 30% of the warming. What about spending money on a more accurate data around these assumptions? What about the contribution of carbon injected by deep see vents? The public needs to understand the these models are junk. Consensus amoung scientest – only modelers and only when a grant it due. The only published poll of scientist found no consensue. Consence here is simply a politically driven lie perpretrated by the usual colusion of thugs. The UN wants to be able to rase funds independently of donor nations. The Russians want to sell their oil. The europeans believe that they have replacement infrastructure in plase and that taxing oil has it benifits – but only if economic compitition can be crippled. Thus although Koto was critical and the none participation of the US an outrage – when it came time for Europ to comply there was no attempt. What woudl be the motive it you were not crippeling the US. The weak minded press of course preach GW as the new religion – because in make them think they understand something. They couldnt find there buttocks with both hands. Jeff

Dec 11, 2011 10:25am EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.


California's historic drought

With reservoirs at record lows, California is in the midst of the worst drought in decades.  Slideshow