UN conference in Durban decided to adopt a legal agreement on climate by 2015, implementation of the Green Climate Fund and extension of the Kyoto Protocol.
11 December 2011
Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC Christiana Figueres and Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South African
Minister and President of the Durban UN Climate Change Conference. Photo: COP17
UN climate talks deliver landmark deal
Countries meeting in Durban, South Africa, have delivered a breakthrough on the future of
the international community?s response to climate change, whilst recognizing the urgent need
to raise their collective level of ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to keep the
average global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius.
We have taken crucial steps forward for the common good and the global citizenry today. I believe
that what we have achieved in Durban will play a central role in saving tomorrow, today, said Maite
Nkoana-Mashabane, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation and
President of the Durban UN Climate Change Conference.
?I salute the countries who made this agreement. They have all laid aside some cherished objectives
of their own to meet a common purpose - a long-term solution to climate change,? said Christiana
Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, as thanking the South African Presidency ?who
steered through a long and intense conference to a historic agreement that has met all major issues.?
Kyoto extension, legal deal by 2015
In Durban, governments decided to adopt a universal legal agreement on climate change as soon as
possible, but not later than 2015. Work will begin on this immediately under a new group called the
Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action.
Governments, including 35 industrialized countries, agreed a second commitment period of the
Kyoto Protocol from January 1, 2013. To achieve rapid clarity, parties to this second period will
turn their economy-wide targets into quantified emission limitation or reduction objectives and
submit them for review by May 1, 2012.
"This is highly significant because the Kyoto Protocol's accounting rules, mechanisms and markets
all remain in action as effective tools to leverage global climate action and as models to inform
future agreements,? Ms. Figueres said.
A significantly advanced framework for the reporting of emission reductions for both developed
and developing countries was also agreed, taking into consideration the common but differentiated
responsibilities of different countries.
Package to support developing nations
In addition to charting the way forward on reducing greenhouse gases in the global context,
governments meeting in South Africa agreed the full implementation of the package to support
developing nations, agreed last year in Cancun, Mexico.
"This means that urgent support for the developing world, especially for the poorest and most
vulnerable to adapt to climate change, will also be launched on time," said Ms Figueres.
The package includes the Green Climate Fund, an Adaptation Committee designed to improve the
coordination of adaptation actions on a global scale, and a Technology Mechanism, which are to
become fully operational in 2012.
Increasing ambition to cut emissions
Whilst pledging to make progress in a number of areas, governments acknowledged the urgent
concern that the current sum of pledges to cut emissions both from developed and developing
countries is not high enough to keep the global average temperature rise below two degrees Celsius.
They therefore decided that the UN Climate Change process shall increase ambition to act and will
be led by the climate science in the IPCC?s Fifth Assessment Report and the global Review from
"While it is clear that these deadlines must be met, countries, citizens and businesses who have been
behind the rising global wave of climate action can now push ahead confidently, knowing that
Durban has lit up a broader highway to a low-emission, climate resilient future," said Ms. Figueres.
The next major UNFCCC Climate Change Conference, COP 18/ CMP 8, is to take place 26
November to 7 December 2012 in Qatar, in close cooperation with the Republic of Korea.
Key decisions emerging from the conference
Green Climate Fund
* Countries have already started to pledge to contribute to start-up costs of the
fund, meaning it can be made ready in 2012, and at the same time can help
developing countries get ready to access the fund, boosting their efforts to
establish their own clean energy futures and adapt to existing climate change.
* A Standing Committee is to keep an overview of climate finance in the
context of the UNFCCC and to assist the Conference of the Parties. It will
comprise 20 members, represented equally between the developed and
* A focussed work program on long-term finance was agreed, which will
contribute to the scaling up of climate change finance going forward and will
analyse options for the mobilization of resources from a variety of sources.
Boosting adaptation actions
* The Adaptation Committee, composed of 16 members, will report to the COP
on its efforts to improve the coordination of adaptation actions at a global scale.
* The adaptive capacities above all of the poorest and most vulnerable
countries are to be strengthened. National Adaptation Plans will allow
developing countries to assess and reduce their vulnerability to climate change.
* The most vulnerable are to receive better protection against loss and damage
caused by extreme weather events related to climate change.
Technology mechanism operational
* The Technology Mechanism will become fully operational in 2012.
* The full terms of reference for the operational arm of the Mechanism - the
Climate Technology Centre and Network - are agreed, along with a clear
procedure to select the host. The UNFCCC secretariat will issue a call for
proposals for hosts on 16 January 2012.
Support for mitigation action
* Governments agreed a registry to record developing country mitigation
actions that seek financial support and to match these with support. The registry
will be a flexible, dynamic, web-based platform.
Other important decisions
* A forum and work programme on unintended consequences of climate change
actions and policies were established.
* Under the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism, governments
adopted procedures to allow carbon-capture and storage projects. These
guidelines will be reviewed every five years to ensure environmental integrity.
* Governments agreed to develop a new market-based mechanism to assist
developed countries in meeting part of their targets or commitments under the
Convention. Details of this will be taken forward in 2012.
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