Kyoto Protocol


World mostly punts on climate change | 

The New York Times’ John Broder called it a “modest accomplishment” while Inter Press’ Stephen Leahy described it as “yet another failure.”

Both are news stories reporting on the conclusion of the week of intense climate change talks in Durban, South Africa — technically known as the UN Frameworks Convention on Climate Change.

Given the predictions by many that nothing much was going to happen, some say the agreement to continue the talks represents some kind of progress. Others not so much. As the NYTimes reports:

The conclusion of the meeting was marked by exhaustion and explosions of temper, and the result was muddled and unsatisfying to many. Observers and delegates said that the actions taken at the meeting, while sufficient to keep the negotiating process alive, would not have a significant impact on climate change.

“While governments avoided disaster in Durban, they by no means responded adequately to the mounting threat of climate change,” said Alden Meyer, director of policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “The decisions adopted here fall well short of what is needed.”

This is the same UN gathering that, in 1997, came up with the Kyoto Protocol, an agreement aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions that has had some problems and has been due to expire soon. Among the agreements reached in Durban, the Kyoto treaty was extended until 2017 or so.

Some of the key (mostly still unresolved) sticking points at the climate change meeting were about how to best assign responsibilities between rich and poor nations and how to support the growth of “green” economies and policies in the rapidly growing developing world.

The world’s biggest polluters — the U.S., China and India — were widely viewed in Durban as presenting the biggest obstacles to reaching consensus.

In a nutshell, the international community has largely punted on climate change, kicking the can down the road to be resolved later. Meanwhile, many say parts of Africa and other regions in the tropics will continue to suffer from altered weather patterns, rainfall and agriculture caused by climate change.

As The Guardian reported:

The deal did little to meet the needs of poor people already fighting climate change, and risked blurring important distinctions between the responsibilities of developed and developing countries…. The science of climate change tells us that, to avoid catastrophic levels of warming – and the droughts and floods that would inevitably follow – global emissions, which are rising at record speed, must peak within the next five years. The Durban deal’s provisions for action within this time period are vague.

Here are a few more reports out of Durban worth a look:

Atlantic How the world failed to address climate change, again

WashPost Five things to know about Durban climate pact

Reuters New Climate Deal Struck, Modest Gains

Alertnet Climate talks agree to keep disagreeing

SciDev Climate deal leaves questions on funding, tech transfer

Fueling the slow boil? More inaction predicted on climate change | 


There are probably lots of colorful, entertaining ways to describe what’s happening — or not happening — at a big international meeting on climate change being held all this week in Durban, South Africa.

Some say it’s a global example of the ‘tragedy of the commons.’ Others might make analogy to that dumb frog which could jump to save itself but just sits in blissful oblivion in a warming pan of water as it is slowly being heated to a boil.

The meeting is not over, but the Guardian already says it is unlikely anything will come of it.

Despite overwhelming scientific consensus that the current pace of climate change will have disastrous consequences, political leaders seem even less willing than before to reach agreement on what to do about it.

The world’s earlier agreement — the so-called Kyoto Protocol — will expire in a few months. This treaty aimed at creating a global plant for reducing greenhouse gases was drawn at an earlier such meeting of this same gathering, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Continue reading