Countries meeting in Durban, South Africa, managed to deliver an agreement after an extension to negotiations. Governments at the COP17 meeting decided to adopt some form of a universal legal agreement on climate change as soon as possible, but not later than 2015. Work on this is to begin immediately under a new group called the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action.
Governments, including 35 industrialized countries, also agreed to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol—due to expire next year— from 1 January 2013. Parties to this second period will turn their economy-wide targets into quantified emission limitation or reduction objectives and submit them for review by 1 May 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.— Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Countries also agreed upon an advanced framework for the reporting of emission reductions for both developed and developing countries, taking into consideration the common but differentiated responsibilities of different countries.
The governments also agreed to the full implementation of the package to support developing nations, agreed upon last year in Cancun, Mexico. 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.
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, based on forecasts. 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 2013-2015.
The next major UNFCCC Climate Change Conference, COP 18/CMP 8, will take place 26 November to 7 December 2012 in Qatar, in close cooperation with the Republic of Korea.
Details of key decisions that emerged from COP17 in Durban
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 developing world.
A focused work program on long-term finance was agreed will contribute to the scaling up of climate change finance going forward and will analyse options for the mobilisation of resources from a variety of sources.
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.
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 upon, 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 of developing country 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 key decisions
A forum and work program 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.