Legally binding agreement a 'cornerstone' for COP17
The annual political battle against climate change began today (November 28) in the South African city of Durban.
Politicians from across the globe are attending the meeting, organised by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, called COP17.
High hopes for a legal binding agreement were in place for the COP15 meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark two years ago.
But when that meeting ended with, what then UK energy secretary Ed Milliband, described as the 'disappointing' Copenhagen Accord - hopes for a legal agreement have faded.
It is highly likely small and developing countries will again push for the Kyoto Protocol's second commitment period to be adopted this year, should this again fail the meeting is unlikely to be viewed as a success.
The adoption is required by the terms of the Protocol itself and was reaffirmed by all countries in 2005 (Montreal) and 2007 (Bali).
However, given the world's fragile economic state developed and high polluting nations are likely to push for a complete end the Kyoto Protocol
In its place, observers expect, a call for the construction of a new regime or mandate for a new treaty that includes all 'major emitters'.
Christian Aid senior advisor on global advocacy, Mohamed Adow, said: "Since the Bali negotiations, some rich country governments have been trying to replace the Kyoto Protocol with a weaker instrument and no binding targets by calling it a more comprehensive approach.
"That's a 'bait and switch' that will allow developed countries to transition out of the Kyoto Protocol, the existing legally binding global treaty, into a treaty with weaker obligations and no chance of averting a climate catastrophe."
Malaysian based Third World Network director, Chee Yoke Ling, said: "Although you might want to get married, you wouldn't sign a marriage contract with someone you didn't know.
"We do know that the current system of the Kyoto Protocol has binding international commitments and rules, and could provide for an equitable and science based outcome.
"That's why developing countries are saying that Kyoto is the 'cornerstone' of the Durban outcome - a legal outcome under the Convention might be possible in Durban; but that is only possible if it does not rewrite the Convention and kill the Kyoto Protocol."
An area where the talks have made progress is creating a Green Climate Fund (GCF), arguably the only positive to come out of COP16 in Cancun last year.
However, the precise details of the funding package remain unclear with rumours from the, often secretive talks, claiming the US is blocking improvements.