The enormity of the challenge facing delegates representing 194 countries at the Durban COP 17 climate talks was becoming clear as the conference proceeded into its third day: Parties held widely disparate positions on divisive issues.
Storm clouds had cleared over the conference center in the coastal city of Durban on Tuesday after recent local flooding had killed eight people, but by many accounts, the outlook for the talks was anything but sunny.
An important focus of the negotiations is climate finance for developing nations, and how to make operational a Green Climate Fund that is intended to reach $100 billion annually by 2020. As ABC News and the Associated Press reported, questions remain over how the fund will be managed and whether the bulk of funding will be public or private.
The future of the Kyoto Protocol is also likely to permeate the talks as a contentious question. The European Union has called for an extension of Kyoto, but media reports surfaced that Canada may even withdraw early. Canada, which had already rejected participating in Kyoto beyond 2012, would not confirm or deny its withdrawal, according to Bloomberg Business Week.
Meanwhile, the science continues to underscore the need for solutions. The UN’s weather agency reported on the planet’s rising temperature: 2011 was tied as the 10th hottest year since records began in 1850 — (2010 tied 2005 for the warmest and the warmest 13 years of average global temperatures have all occurred in the 15 years since 1997) — and Arctic sea ice has shrunk to a record low volume, according to the World Meteorological Organization. It warned increasing global average temperatures are expected to amplify floods, droughts and other extreme weather patterns.
Extreme weather is becoming one of the most obvious signs of a warming planet. Check out The Telegraph’s slide show of Extreme Weather photos over the past decade.
One decision announced is that there will be another UN climate conference next year: COP 18 will take place from Nov. 26 to Dec. 7, 2012 in Qatar, likely in the capital city, Doha.
But despite its gloomy start, some of The Nature Conservancy’s veteran policy experts note that it is early in the conference, and there is still time for progress. We must remember these multi-year-long climate talks are a marathon, not a sprint.
The Conservancy’s delegation of about 20 people over two weeks is working to preserve the best parts of the Kyoto Protocol and to streamline the different negotiating tracks to eventually build a global agreement.
Stay tuned to Planet Change to learn more about the Conservancy’s participation in the Durban conference as sessions on climate adaptation are held in the coming days.
Lisa Hayden is a blogger and writer for The Nature Conservancy
Photo by: Flickr user ~MVI~ (acquainting with Durban), (Outgoing COP 16 president, Foreign Affairs Secretary Patricia Espinosa of Mexico (left) watches as incoming COP 17 president International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane of South Africa (center) is greeted by Executive Director Christiana Figueres of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, as Pres. Jacob Zuma of South Africa (far right) applauds. Used under a Creative Commons license.
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