Cop17 – Durban climate change conference. A deal yes….but what are the consequences?

Cop17  – Durban climate change conference. A deal yes….but what are the consequences?

At the 11th hour a deal was reached (in fact later than that as the conference had to be extended to the ’13th’  hour). But what does the deal mean?

Here are some immediate comments:

Climate deal salvaged after marathon talks in Durban –  Guardian

Chris Huhne Minister for the Environment – “significant step forward”

Landmark Deal Saves Durban Climate Talks (Huffington Post)

Damian Carrington : Climate deal: A guarantee our children will be worse off than us!

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the deal represents “an important advance in our work on climate change.

They haven’t reached a real deal,” said Samantha Smith, of WWF International. “They watered things down so everyone could get on board.”

Michael Jacobs, visiting professor at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment in London, said the agreement could bring real changes.

The agreement here has not in itself taken us off the 4C path we are on,” he said.

But by forcing countries for the first time to admit that their current policies are inadequate and must be strengthened by 2015, it has snatched 2C from the jaws of impossibility.

Durban fiddles while Africa Burns! (Climate Alliance)

After an extra day’s hard negotiations, the 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed this Sunday on the second commitment period (KP2) under Kyoto Protocol.

and a taste of last minute diplomacy by Norway…

Climate Justice Now!, a broad coalition of social movements and civil society, emerging from the UN COP17 climate summit in Durban argued that the talks constitute a crime against humanity. That here in South Africa, where the world was inspired by the liberation struggle of the country’s black majority, the richest nations have cynically created a new regime of climate apartheid The press statement is at:

http://www.climate-justice-now.org/2011-cop17-succumbs-to-climate-apartheid-antidote-is-cochabamba-peoples%E2%80%99-agreement

They make the connection between the overspending on arms with underspending on the environment.

It seems the moment of truth has been put off for many years. Over the next few years we will see more and more climate catastrophes ; the estimate is that the planet will warm up by another 3.5 to 5 degrees. This can be prevented by the politicians and the powers that be, but only if they massively invest, diverting the resources that go into wars into a war against climate change.  There is only one way to force them to act, and that is building a social movement, from below. That is how all governments can be forced to change.

The deal doesn’t explicitly compel any nation to take on emissions targets, although most emerging economies have volunteered to curb the growth of their emissions.

Currently, only industrial countries have legally binding emissions targets under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Those commitments expire next year, but they will be extended for at least another five years under the accord adopted Sunday — a key demand by developing countries seeking to preserve the only existing treaty regulating carbon emissions.

Scientists say that unless those emissions — chiefly carbon dioxide from power generation and industry — level out and reverse within a few years, the Earth will be set on a possibly irreversible path of rising temperatures that lead to ever greater climate catastrophes.

The package gave new life to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, whose carbon emissions targets expire next year and apply only to industrial countries. A separate document obliges major developing nations like China and India, excluded under Kyoto, to accept legally binding emissions targets in the future.

Together, the two documents overhaul a system designed 20 years ago that divide the world into a handful of wealthy countries facing legal obligations to reduce emissions, and the rest of the world which could undertake voluntary efforts to control carbon.

Richard Black, BBC environment correspondent  talked of ‘winners and losers’. He mentioned that one set of winners were those countries highly vulnerable to climate impacts, such as those within the Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis) and the Least Developed Countries bloc (LDCs) which have more than 70 members combined.

Another group of winners were the youth:

Unfailingly charming, youth delegates brought a freshness, a “Yes-we-can” -ness, to the often jaundiced proceedings.

Some of their demonstrations worked too. US envoy Todd Stern was visibly rattled when his set-piece speech was interrupted – not so much rattled by the young heckler as by the prolonged applause generated by her heckling – applause coming from people who were supposed to be her elders and his peers.

And the “occupation” on the final scheduled afternoon made an impact simply because it went on for so long – a couple of hours – bringing a distinct feeling of substance, a “we’re staying here until you sort it out” kind of vibe.

So, after a lot of huffing and puffing some sort of deal has been made. It also seems that after decades of questioning  the scientific evidence a better understanding is emerging that climate change is real and we need to unite across country boundaries and age boundaries to make a difference for the next generations.

click the ‘4’ below for another video:

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