The Durban climate change negotiations go down to the wire

I guess like everyone else who is familiar with the format of the International Climate Change Negotiations, you definitely anticipate that things will run late into the Friday evening/early hours of Saturday morning of the second week. However, this year's negotiations definitely broke all of the rules! Not content with a slight overrun, we saw ministers negotiating until the early hours of Sunday morning to broker what most people consider to be a very successful outcome.

What struck me over the course of the two weeks was that countries were definitely trying to put aside nationalistic interests to agree on something that would work on a number of levels. The ‘Durban Platform' (the details of which are yet to be finalised) plans to ensure that all countries in 2015 sign up to a deal that ensures they have to cut Greenhouse Gas emissions by 2020 - this represented an achievement which was more than anyone had dared hope for at the start of the negotiations.

So what does the ‘Durban Platform' mean for the carbon markets and the private sector? Well normally the answer to this question wouldn't usually be being thought about on the Monday after the negotiations had concluded, but after the (completely understandably) delays, the final text didn't appear on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) website until late on Sunday.

After reading through the plethora of documents which are now available on the UNFCCC homepage, I think that there is much to celebrate. As a result of the Durban Platform, the EU and nine other countries committed to new targets under the Kyoto Protocol. The new commitment period starts in 2013 and will run until either 2017 or 2020. As yet, it is unclear what Australia and New Zealand's intentions are, with regards to a second commitment period, but given both have invested considerable time and effort in establishing an Emissions Trading Scheme in recent years, it would seem likely that they will join in the not too distant future  - we'll definitely keep our fingers crossed.

With regards to the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) - with a second commitment period secured, then clarity post 2012 is unequivocal. In addition, there were developments to the approval of the concept of materiality (something industry had been wanting for the past three years), alongside transparency, consistency of decisions and improvements to waiting times and finally further movement to standardized baselines and suppressed demand for LDCs. Furthermore after 6 years of trying, carbon capture and storage (CCS) also made it into the CDM.

New market mechanisms also continued the forward momentum trend, with negotiators agreeing language that will see various inputs from parties and stakeholders with regards to how mechanisms could operate and potential modalities. The idea is that COP18 in Doha would ideally see movement on these issues and a firm decision reached.

Finally, progress was also seen on the Green Climate Fund, with the launch agreed in Durban. However, given the economic situation there was little progress made with regards to its capitalizations – something that will have to wait until Doha. It was also very positive to also see language which talks about private sector financing in respect of the final agreed GCF text.

So the question often posed with regards to post COP analysis is; ‘was Durban a good COP or bad COP?' Well, given the various developments outlined above then I ultimately believe that Durban wasn't just a good COP….it was probably one of the most successful COPs I've ever taken part in.

With so much delivered, we now need to ensure that momentum continues and that all these policies are implemented in an effective way [both nationally, regionally and internationally] that truly helps the international community limit climate change and preserves the planet for generations to come!

Rachel Mountain

Topics: edie
Tags: | carbon capture | Emissions trading | gas | greenhouse gas emissions | united nations
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