Sunday, 11 December 2011

UN Climate Change Deal Reached

Under the Kyoto Accord only developed nations had a responsibility to reduce carbons.  Canada's stance has been that a new deal should include all large emitters, especially China and India.  Although Canada has often been seen as the bad guy, especially by North American environmentalists, it is only number eight on the list of overall global emitters.  A new deal has been reached at the UN Climate Change Talks in Durban South Africa.  The deal, which is to be negotiated by 2015, would include all emitters and would take effect by 2020.

The deal would also include bodies that would govern and collect and distribute funds for poorer countries.  There would also be rules for monitoring and verifying emissions reductions, protecting forests, transferring clean technologies to developing countries and scores of technical issues.

Kyoto,  which only has binding targets for developed countries and runs out in 2012, would be renewed for five years under the accord adopted on Sunday.   China and India were the largest stumbling block to the accord, but after the Conference president Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who is South Africa's Energy Minister, called a recess and told EU representatives and those of developed countries to put their head together, a deal was reached.

Although a deal was reached, it is still a long way from becoming reality.   There will most certainly be hard negotiations in the development of the new accord.   The effectiveness of a new accord will be in the details.

Canada's Environment Minister, Peter Kent, said that he was cautiously optimistic that a new agreement could be reached by 2015.

"The Durban Platform sets out a process to negotiate a new climate change treaty that would create binding commitments for all major emitters."

Canada's position, all along, has been that China, India, Brazil and South Africa should be part of a new accord, since emissions of those countries has rising emissions with growing economies.  Canada will not undertake a second Kyoto commitment, which it sees as flawed.

The United States is a reluctant supporter of the new accord, with an election in 2012, the contents of the accord would get little support in Congress.  Ted Stern the U.S. Climate Change Envoy said that the package covered significant advances that would be undone without an accord.

"This is a very significant package. None of us likes everything in it. Believe me, there is plenty the United States is not thrilled about." 

As COP 17 draws to an end, at least it is not concluded empty handed.   Whether or not a draft agreement can be reached will depend on many variables.   There is a spending crisis in most Western nations, which governments know has to be under control.  The most urgent one is in the EU.   With austerity measures being imposed on citizens of EU countries, the money to support any climate change accord has to be found.  Past history would indicate that most support climate change measures until it hits their pocket book.

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