Another year, another climate change conference.
Like Copenhagen and Cancun before it, the talks in the South African city of Durban have been billed as a last chance to save the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s only binding agreement to cut carbon emissions. That is due to expire next year.
Yet, in spite of the increasingly dire warnings from global warming scientists, the world’s biggest polluters remain at loggerheads. The UN admits finding common ground won’t be easy.
‘‘We have to see how you can politically balance the leadership of industrialised countries under the Kyoto Protocol with a growing responsibility that would be shared by all under the convention,” the Executive Director of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change told euronews:
Russia, Japan and Canada have all so far refused to sign up to a second Kyoto commitment unless the planet’s biggest emitters also do so. While Europe has said it wants a new global treaty soon, the US continues to resist.
Emerging economic powers, however, are adamant it should not be them who are left with the bill.
Brazilian MP Alfredo Sirkis told euronews: “Developed nations have been responsible for 70% of all global emissions in the atmosphere since the start of the industrial era. Thus, they should pay 70% of the bill.”
For many, renewables are the big hope to avoid temperatures passing beyond two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times. China, the world’s worst polluter is investing heavily in Green infrastructure. The EU is also pushing for cleaner energy alternatives, seen as a way to create jobs and exit the economic crisis.
The world’s richest nations have also committed to a goal of providing a hundred billion dollars a year in climate cash by 2020, though given the global economic crisis, many worry that support might dry up if the growth prospects of developed countries worsen.
As a result few expect Durban to be the place where a binding deal to save the planet is found. Instead, many agree, any progress, however small, will be a success.