Cool COP Morning: Much Work Remains as “Big Guns” Take the Baton in Week 2 of Durban Climate Talks

Written by Lisa Hayden on . Posted in Act, COP17, The Wonk Room

Some higher-powered negotiators, including a dozen heads of state and some 130 cabinet-level ministers, are arriving at the Durbin COP 17 climate conference for the second week of meetings. Whether the arrival of the “big gun” negotiators shakes up the process and leads to some breakthroughs remains to be seen.

Somewhat positive developments at the end of the first week, including statements from Chinese officials regarding the potential for limits on its emissions in 2020, have left delegates — and the world that is watching — hopeful that the meetings won’t end in collapse, and perhaps may even produce some modest agreements for moving ahead with solutions.

An official negotiating “text” released Saturday will guide the talks into the final days. Reports on the text indicate that it includes many of the options on the table, which means significant streamlining will need to occur in the coming days.

But Christiana Figueres, the head diplomat for the UN climate meetings, told the Associated Press that the talks were in “good shape” for the senior negotiators to step in. She also said she is “confident” that industrial nations will renew their pledges to cut emissions, after the current Kyoto Protocol commitment ends at the end of 2012.

The challenge facing delegates is whether Kyoto might be extended — as many developing nations favor — or whether a new agreement might replace Kyoto, and whether all nations (including those with low historic, but now rising emissions) will agree to be bound by it.

On Saturday, thousands marched in the streets of Durban in support of climate justice and action as part of a huge rally outside the conference.

And the imperative for urgent action to curb global warming was bolstered by another study: the Global Carbon Project, a scientific collaboration, reported Sunday that global emissions from burning fossil fuels rose 5.9 percent in 2010, jumping the largest amount in any year since the Industrial Revolution.

One Huffington Post columnist suggests to the Durban delegates that we need nothing less than “to declare war on climate change,” much as we have on terrorism, in order to mobilize the collective will to solve the problem. “…to put this genie back in its bottle will take a world-wide Marshall Plan,” writes Gary Ginsberg, a Yale faculty toxicologist.

Visit Planet Change often for updates from The Nature Conservancy’s team in Durban as the talks proceed through this Friday.

Lisa Hayden is a blogger and writer for The Nature Conservancy

Photo by: Flickr User Oxfam International Credit: Ainhoa Goma (As world leaders struggle to reach agreement at the COP17 negotiations, civil society, organized labor, faith-based organizations, artists and musicians rallied in a peaceful march through Durban on Saturday, Dec. 3) Used under a Creative Commons license.

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