Hopes of deal at Cop17

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - JOHN YELD

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.”

john.yeld@inl.co.za

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