Durban - UN 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
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
text will not be publicly available for several days, a UN spokesperson said.
Extension of the Kyoto Protocol
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 UN treaty is
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
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
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
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
Poor nations are most in need of finance to help pay for
adapting to global warming and introducing low emission energy and industrial
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
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.
New market mechanisms
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.
Carbon capture and storage
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.
Reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD)
Delegates agreed to consider private funding and
market-based mechanisms as options to finance the programme 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 programme 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
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.