All eyes will be on Durban for the next two weeks, where countries are discussing how best to contain dangerous climate change.
Recent weather events – from floods in Thailand to drought in the Horn of Africa – have ensured that climate change is never far from the news. Even as the annual negotiations under the UN framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC) opened in Durban on 28 November, a flooding in the same city had claimed the lives of at least eight people.
This year’s Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC picks up from discussions in Cancún (Mexico) last year, which provided new impetus to the multilateral process. By reaching agreement on a common objective (limit global warming to below 2°C as compared to pre-industrial levels) and a number of institutional arrangements (including on finance and adaptation), Cancún proved that multilateralism, within the UN framework, can deliver. However, much remains to be done to meet the common objective.
The EU is pressing for two key results in Durban:
A key point is the extent to which emerging and developing economies should take action to counter climate change. By 2020, nearly two thirds of global emissions are expected to come from those countries. The EU, where emissions are already declining, is currently the third-largest emitter, after China and the US.
‘If the EU was to take up a second Kyoto period with a few other developed economies, it might cover at most 16% of global emissions, where the first Kyoto period covered around one third of global emissions. How can this be labelled a success for the climate?’ wrote EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard in a recent article.
The Commissioner will join EU ministers in Durban between 6 and 9 December, to push for a global framework for action by all major economies alike.