The Durban climate talks closed two days late in the early hours of Sunday morning to great acclaim on the adoption of the Durban Platform. The agreements reached in Durban foresee a second commitment under the Kyoto Protocol and a negotiating framework to achieve a new legal consensus on climate action by 2015, which would be implemented by 2020.
The coming weeks will no doubt see extensive analysis and debate over the outcomes from COP17. 2012 will see discussion commence under the auspices of the Durban Platform where no doubt the last minute compromises made to get the agreement through in the early hours of Sunday morning will complicate negotiations in the months ahead.
The real debate will revolve around the legal nature of the final outcome from the Durban Platform process. The definition of “legal force” will cause difficulties into the future, as will the provision that the result of the Durban Platform process will apply to all countries. The Kyoto Protocol applies to all countries, but then differentiates between developed and developing. Indeed while the Durban decision text lacks reference to the concept of “common but differentiated responsibilities” it is highly implausible to assume that developing countries will now see themselves on an equal standing with developed countries in terms of emission reduction responsibilities. The right of developing countries to grow their economies will still (as it should) be considered paramount and there will no doubt be continued expectation that the historic responsibility for climate change sits with the developed world who will still be expected to contribute the lion’s share of the emission reduction effort.
It seems likely all countries will consider they got what they wanted out of the final decision in Durban, but that does not mean they all agreed. 2012 will see the formalisation of the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol and it will set the ground-work for the agreement due to be reached in 2015. However many of the issues that have been under negotiation for the past few years remain on the table and these will need to be resolved for agreement to be reached in 2015, especially if that agreement is to be a more formal treaty rather than simply a set of legal decisions.
While there is a lot of triumphalism in the immediate aftermath of the conference, only time will tell whether the agreement reached can result in a treaty being agreed.
One a positive note, the decision to establish the framework for the Green Climate Fund is a huge positive, as is the specific reference to carbon capture and storage (CCS) in the governing instrument as having an identified role in the fund. Another plus for CCS from the conference was its inclusion in the Clean Development Mechanism, which was covered in a previous blog. Inclusion of CCS in the CDM and the Green Climate Fund will provide strong support for deploying this essential mitigation technology in the developing world.