Crunch time for climate deal talks in Durban

 

A A A

Countries were today locked in debate over whether to press ahead with a new legal climate treaty, as the latest round of UN global warming talks entered their final hours.

On the table at the talks in Durban, South Africa, are plans to launch a process to develop a "legal framework", covering all countries, to cut greenhouse gas emissions after 2020.

Under the current plans, which still have countries locked in negotiations, the new treaty would be agreed by 2015.

The proposals, which call for action to cut emissions in order to keep global temperatures from rising by more than 2C above pre-industrial levels, also say that countries will have to strengthen current efforts to tackle global warming.

Europe has been calling for the UN talks to agree a mandate to negotiate, by 2015, a legally-binding climate deal covering all major economies, in return for the bloc signing up to a second period of emissions cuts under the existing Kyoto treaty.

The EU wants action from other countries because the Kyoto Protocol, which was never ratified by the US and does not cover major economies such as China, accounts for just 15% of world greenhouse gas emissions.

But it is not yet clear if major players such as the US, China and India will sign up to a road map to a legal deal negotiated by an agreed date.

There are also calls to address the "emissions gap" between the voluntary pledges countries have made to cut greenhouse gases and the reductions needed by 2020 to keep the world on track to keep rises to 2C and avoid "dangerous" climate change.

The deal on the table recognises the need to strengthen efforts, boost ambition taking into account a new global scientific assessment of climate change due out in 2013 and consider whether efforts should be made to keep temperature rises to just 1.5C.

UK Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne earlier said a "high-ambition coalition" of countries was pushing for a strong deal which delivered carbon emissions reductions.

And he said: "I think we're reaching the point at which a number of delegations have got to decide whether they want to get a treaty with real environmental integrity.

"We have some pretty fundamental political changes in the sense there's now a very visible high ambition coalition that stretches across the developed world in Europe and developing countries.

"And the real issue is whether those who until now have been reluctant to join the high ambition are actually prepared to do so."

He said Europe was standing firm in its determination to get countries to sign up to negotiating a new legally binding global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions - and now spoke for the majority of countries.

Despite political turmoil among European leaders in Brussels, at the climate talks in Durban, South Africa, Mr Huhne said the EU was "absolutely united" in its bid to get a deal that delivered on the ground.

As negotiators remained locked in talks to agree a deal, campaigners staged a noisy protest in the conference centre, in support of countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change including African nations and small island states.

The World Development Movement said the protesters were accusing the UK and other rich countries of trying to escape their responsibilities for addressing global warming.

Greenpeace International's executive director Kumi Naidoo was thrown out of the talks after participating in the protest.

Before being ejected from the conference centre, he said: "We are here to stand with the most vulnerable countries whose basic survival needs have not been met by the men and women in that conference hall.

"We are here to call upon government ministers to listen to the people and not the polluters."

After he was thrown out, Mr Naidoo said the American delegation was continuing to obstruct progress on the talks, which could lead to low-lying island states being wiped off the map.

As negotiations continued, environmental charity WWF's head of delegation Tasneem Essop said of the proposals: "It is a start, but it can't be the end result."

She said the ambiguous language describing a new treaty as a "legal framework" could pull in countries which were not prepared to sign up to a "legally binding" deal. But she said there needed to be more ambition in the deal to keep temperature rises below 2C.

Progress on the deal was the key that would unlock agreement on other elements being negotiated in Durban, including the green climate fund to channel billions of pounds to poor countries to help them cope with global warming, she added.

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones