Climate Change Program
For more information about CIEL's Climate Change Program, contact Niranjali Amerasinghe.
At Climate Talks: Nations Agree to do Tomorrow what they Should have done Yesterday
For Immediate Release
December 11, 2011
DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA—According to the Center for International Environmental Law, countries meeting here narrowly avoided failure this morning but fell far short of the rapid and dramatic action climate science says is needed. Negotiators agreed an 11th hour plan that kept the 20 year process from spiraling into chaos but left key details to be resolved at a later date.
"The Durban platform keeps the climate process on life support by kicking most fundamental decisions down the road yet again," said CIEL President Carroll Muffett. "Ministers meeting here called for urgent action then set a timeline that doesn't reflect that urgency."
Nations agreed to a new commitment period under the existing Kyoto Protocol, but will not actually quantify their reduction commitments until next year. They agreed a package of implementation measures based on the Bali Action Plan and agreements in Cancun last year. They also agreed to begin negotiations on a new legal agreement that would theoretically raise the ambition of emission reductions and extend those reductions to a larger group of countries, including, presumably the United States, China and India.
"This compromise left the door wide open to a 4o world, even as the window to a world below 2oC is closing rapidly. Parties took a step towards legally enshrining global action to stabilize the climate," said CIEL's Kristen Hite. "But a mandate for a new legal agreement without a clear roadmap for how to get there is a recipe for delay, at a time when we need strong commitments for binding, concrete and ambitious emissions reductions and financial support."
Results elsewhere in the negotiations were mixed. The Parties adopted key elements of the Green Climate Fund, expected to channel much needed financing to developing countries. At the same time most wealthy countries failed to provide the resources developing countries need to solve the global climate crisis. Efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation, known as REDD+, moved forward with technical standards while sidelining key details for reporting on social and environmental impacts. Parties also elaborated processes to monitor mitigation actions and financial support, what remains ironically lacking are the actions to be monitored.
The talks also made little progress toward better addressing climate-associated human rights impacts. "Many voices from the North and South called for climate negotiators to respect their rights," said CIEL attorney Alyssa Johl. "Countries must take far bolder steps to safeguard peoples and communities around the world, especially those most vulnerable."
"Measured by the terms of these negotiations, there were modest but important steps forward," said Muffett. "But measured in terms of climate reality, it's still far too little, far too late."
Kristen Hite, Mobile +27-769396138, Office +1.202.742.5846, or email@example.com
Niranjali Amerasinghe, Staff Attorney, Mobile +1-202 288-2204, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Founded in 1989, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), www.ciel.org, is uses international law and institutions to protect the environment, promote human health, and ensure a just and sustainable society. With offices in Washington, DC and Geneva, CIEL's staff of international attorneys work in the areas of human rights and the environment, climate change, law and communities, chemicals, trade and the environment, international environmental governance, biodiversity and international financial institutions by providing legal counsel and advocacy, policy research and capacity building.
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