Hopes of deal at Cop17
THE COP17 climate summit in Durban went down to the wire last night, after concessions by South Africa and Brazil in the past 36 hours helped make a new climate deal more likely – but by no means certain.
And the United States was looking increasingly isolated as the discussions continued.
Crucially, the new deal is likely to include a new second commitment period under the Kyoto protocol. It will mean developed nations will continue their legally binding greenhouse gas emissions reductions after the first commitment period ends next year.
Keeping the protocol alive was one of the major challenges for SA. However, Canada and possibly Russia and Japan may not agree to new commitments under Kyoto.
The deal, if accepted, is also expected to include a formal “road map” set of negotiations with a fixed time-line to get agreement on a universal, legally binding agreement by 2020 for a Kyoto “replacement” that will include the US, which has not ratified Kyoto.
A third key element, bringing into operation the Green Climate Fund to help developing nations, was looking promising late yesterday. However, discussion on exactly how it would reach its target of $100 billion (R8 trillion) a year by 2020 was likely to be deferred.
The summit had been scheduled to officially end last night but at the time of going to press negotiators were still hard at work and it was not clear whether they would strike a deal.
Sources said a draft text of a deal that could be called a “Durban Accord” was being circulated by COP17 president Maite NkoanaMashabane, South Africa’s minister of international relations and cooperation, but that it was not finding universal favour.
They suggested that in an attempt to appease the US, the proposed deal had been stripped too much of legal guarantees of emissions reductions by all nations, and that the EU and the Association of Small Island States were not happy.
The text uses the words “legal
framework” rather than “legally binding”, but the EU and others prefer “legally binding”.
The US has always been strongly opposed to any legally binding emissions targets, arguing for a voluntary, selfregulating emissions reduction system, but it was looking increasingly isolated late yesterday.
The four members of the Basic group – China, Brazil, SA and India – are key players because they are big greenhouse gas emitters but are not subject to any restrictions under Kyoto. The US in particular objects to this.
But first China, and then later Brazil and SA, indicated that they would be prepared to consider legally binding emission targets in a new agreement after 2020 – decisions viewed as a possible gamechanger at the summit.
ID MP and environment spokesman Lance Greyling tweeted, “the message would be: stay tuned, see how things develop over the next 18 to 24 hours.”