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Deal Reached in Durban But Scientists Say it Won't Avert Catastrophic Climate Change

Andy Atkins, executive director of Friends of the Earth, said: "This empty shell of a plan leaves the planet hurtling towards catastrophic climate change."

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However, the targets that have been set will be subject to review from 2013-15 to decide whether they should be toughened, especially in the light of a scientific report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change due out in 2014. The climate change secretary, Chris Huhne, said: "The direction of travel is clear – the targets can only be strengthened. The scientific evidence is growing clearer."

For some, including the US and China, this "pledge and review" process of voluntary pledges offers an adequate way of ensuring carbon is reduced globally. But for others, including the EU and many developing countries, it is inferior to a legally binding international treaty, because the voluntary process is too prone to politicians reneging on their commitments.

Brazil's chief negotiator, ambassador Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, said: "This is a landmark achievement that creates real possibilities for scaling up the fight against climate change. It's an excellent text that clearly sets points of action, points of commitment, and timetables, and it is legally-binding, so it is extremely effective, potentially, for responding to the need of climate change. We got what we came to Durban to get.''

In return for the Durban agreement, the EU conceded to developing country demands to continue the Kyoto protocol after its current emission-cutting targets expire next year.

The EU is the only major developed country bloc to agree to a continuation. Japan, Canada and Russia have all refused, and the US has never ratified the pact.

 
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