Dare we whisper the word progress related to the UN climate negotiations?
Don’t say it out loud yet, but news coverage from the talks in Durban, South Africa, as the first week of the conference comes to an end, seems to be hinting at the potential for movement from some parties.
Despite apparent U.S. opposition, representatives from the European Union intimated that there is growing support for a “roadmap” that would lead to a legally binding climate treaty among nations to cut carbon emissions. With the Kyoto Protocol set to expire at the end of 2012 if not renewed, the idea supported by the EU is, by 2015, to create a new treaty that would go into effect in 2020.
U.S. deputy climate change envoy Jonathan Pershing was quoted that such an agreement would have to be equally binding on all parties (in other words developing countries like China, would need to be bound by the treaty as well as developed nations).
But there have also been some positive signals from China at the talks. Xu Huaqing, a senior researcher with the Energy Research Institute, which is affiliated with the government body overseeing climate change issues in China, was quoted publicly that China might agree to a quantified target to limit its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, depending on the outcome of climate negotiations and the progress of China’s development at the time. This is the first time China has mentioned such a timetable.
There is also potential for progress on climate policies beyond emissions targets, such as sustainable economic development paired with forest conservation (also known as REDD or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) and climate finance for developing countries.
So, don’t hold your breath, but keep watching Durban for developments.
Lisa Hayden is a blogger and writer for The Nature Conservancy
Photo by: Flickr user Oxfam International (Plenary session at COP 17, Durban)Used under a Creative Commons license.
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