by Judith Curry
From the latest UNFCCC press release:
Countries meeting in Durban, South Africa, have delivered a breakthrough on the future of the international community’s response to climate change
Details of key decisions that emerged from COP17 in Durban Green Climate Fund
• Countries have already started to pledge to contribute to start-up costs of the fund, meaning it can be made ready in 2012, and at the same time can help developing countries get ready to access the fund, boosting their efforts to establish their own clean energy futures and adapt to existing climate change.
• A Standing Committee is to keep an overview of climate finance in the context of the UNFCCC and to assist the Conference of the Parties. It will comprise 20 members, represented equally between the developed and developing world.Page 3
• A focussed work programme on long-term finance was agreed, which will contribute to the scaling up of climate change finance going forward and will analyse options for the mobilisation of resources from a variety of sources.
• The Adaptation Committee, composed of 16 members, will report to the COP on its efforts to improve the coordination of adaptation actions at a global scale.
• The adaptive capacities above all of the poorest and most vulnerable countries are to be strengthened. National Adaptation Plans will allow developing countries to assess and reduce their vulnerability to climate change.
• The most vulnerable are to receive better protection against loss and damage caused by extreme weather events related to climate change.
• The Technology Mechanism will become fully operational in 2012.
• The full terms of reference for the operational arm of the Mechanism – the Climate Technology Centre and Network – are agreed, along with a clear procedure to select the host. The UNFCCC secretariat will issue a call for proposals for hosts on 16 January 2012.
Support of developing country action
• Governments agreed a registry to record developing country mitigation actions that seek financial support and to match these with support. The registry will be a flexible, dynamic, web- based platform.
Other key decisions
• A forum and work programme on unintended consequences of climate change actions and policies were established.
• Under the Kyoto Protocolís Clean Development Mechanism, governments adopted procedures to allow carbon-capture and storage projects. These guidelines will be reviewed every five years to ensure environmental integrity.
• Governments agreed to develop a new market-based mechanism to assist developed countries in meeting part of their targets or commitments under the Convention. Details of this will be taken forward in 2012.
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Keith Kloor’s summary
Keith Kloor has an article at Yale Climate Media Forum entitled “What to make of the Durban climate deal?“. Some excerpts from this post:
Some climate analysts, such as widely read blogger Joe Romm, appeared conflicted. He hailed the agreement as “a pretty big success,” but also acknowledged in the same breath that it was “sadly lacking” in terms of “what is needed to avert catastrophic climate change.”
There was no such equivocation from Michael Levi, a climate and energy analyst with the Council on Foreign Relations. He called all the happy talk about the “landmark deal” (which is how the AP characterized it), “nonsense.” Levi examined the fine print of the Durban agreement and found that its true meaning doesn’t jell with how it’s been reported by the press. Here he is on the brinksmanship that produced the flexible language he’s pointing to:
The precise dynamics that unfolded in the final days are still unclear. In the end, though, the talks came down to a simple choice. Europe insisted on language that would commit all countries “to launch a process to develop a protocol or another legal instrument under the Convention applicable to all Parties”. India strenuously insisted that “a legal outcome” be included as a third option. It is not clear exactly where China or United States, which were both fine with including “legal option” but otherwise largely sat out the final public fight, would have drawn the line if forced. Everyone ultimately compromised: an “outcome with legal force”, rather than a “legal outcome”, was added as the third option.
It is difficult to avoid concluding that the Europeans ultimately blinked, though you wouldn’t get that from their spin or from the media coverage. The New York Times, adopting a similar interpretation to most other outlets, reported that the deal foresees “a future treaty that would require all countries to reduce emissions that contribute to global warming”. Alas, there’s nothing much like that in the text.
[T]he NYT‘s John Broder wrote in a separate news analysis, “
Broder then quotes Nick Robins, an energy and climate change analyst at HSBC, the London-based global bank, who makes this observation: “There is a fundamental disconnect in having environment ministers negotiating geopolitics and macroeconomics.”
Harvard’s Robert Stavins writes an article “Assessing the Climate Talks – Did Durban Succeed?” Some excerpts:
If by “success” in Durban, one means solving the climate problem, the answer is obviously “not close.”
Indeed, if by “success” one meant just putting the world on a path to solve the climate problem, the answer would still have to be “no.”
But, I’ve argued previously – including in my pre-Durban essay last month – that such definitions of success are fundamentally inappropriate for judging the international negotiations on the exceptionally challenging, long-term problem of global climate change.
The key question, at this point, is whether the Durban outcome has put the world in a place and on a trajectory whereby it is more likely than it was previously to establish a sound foundation for meaningful long-term action.
I don’t think the answer to that question is at all obvious, but having read carefully the agreements that were reached in Durban, and having reflected on their collective implications for meaningful long-term action, I am inclined to focus on “the half-full glass of water.” My conclusion is that the talks – as a result of last-minute negotiations – advanced international discussions in a positive direction and have increased the likelihood of meaningful long-term action.
Not only did Durban not undo the progress made in Cancun, it built upon it, and moved forward. This won’t satisfy the 350.org crowd, and it must greatly annoy the opponents of sensible climate policy, but in the real world of international negotiations on this exceptionally difficult global commons problem, this is what success looks like.
Christopher Monckton has a post over at WUWT that is, well, Moncktonian. It is entitled “Durban: what the media aren’t telling you.” Hard to know what to excerpt. But Monckton’s essay does imply that reading the fine print in these documents (which are not yet finalized) is needed to really understand the implications of Durban.
JC comments: With the spin on both sides, and not having read all the fine print, it is not clear to me exactly what the outcome is of the Durban Conference. My main question at this point is whether the IPCC is relevant to what is going on at this point with the UNFCCC? If the AR5 has higher confidence in its findings, does that matter? Does it matter whether the sensitivity estimates move up or down? I suspect that the answer is no.