Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Thoughts on the Durban UN Climate Change Conference

AgDialogue member Chris Insley is a director of Scion Research and Ngāti Porou Seafoods, executive director of 37 Degrees South,  and is affiliated with Te Whānau a Apanui and Ngāti Porou. Chris recently returned from the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, where he was a member of the New Zealand Government delegation. Here he offers a few thoughts on the meeting, and provides links that summarise the outcome. This post summarises earlier posts from Chris’s blog, which can be found here.

Chris in Durban

Amid all the doomsayers, participants at the UN climate change talks in Durban (South Africa) agreed to a pact that, for the first time, will force all of the world’s biggest polluters to act to slow the pace of global climate change. The deal follows years of failed attempts to impose legally-binding international cuts on emerging economic giants, such as China and India.
While it is only a matter of days since the negotiations have ended, and the details of the new agreement still need to be properly understood and interpreted, I believe that seeing all the countries of the world step up mean that the agreement is a very, very good result.
At Durban there was a very real risk that we would achieve nothing or simply procrastinate about what to do. But doing nothing quite simply was not and is not an option for us or the world. We just don’t have the time to sit around for another 20 years (the amount of time since the last major global agreement on greenhouse gas emissions, the Kyoto protocol, was first signed) while emissions continue to rise at an alarming rate.

Fortunately, two major outcomes were achieved at the meeting:
  •         There was a commitment to reduce the effects of global warming, with every country committing to set targets to reduce CO2 emissions; and
  •          We now have certainty about who is in and who is out and what the rules are going to be.

No substantive changes to how agriculture will be dealt with were made at the Durban meeting.
Of course in the days, weeks, months and indeed years ahead, the debate will rage on: was it enough or was it too much? The fact is that we now have something - a place to start. There remains an enormous amount of follow-up work to do to interpret at country level exactly what the Durban agreement means and how it will play out country by country. But at least we have a starting point that is committed to by the world at large – from developed economies to developing economies, and from small to large to very large economies. We have far greater certainty.

Links to more information on the Durban deal – 

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