Monday, November 28, 2011

UNFCCC COP17/CMP7 Kicks Off In Durban, South Africa

Nov 28: A press release from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) indicates that against a background of record greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the atmosphere, more frequent and intense extreme weather events, but also growing momentum for action to fight climate change, the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa  kicked off today. The conference runs from November 28 to December 9, 2011. At the start of the conference, South African President Jacob Zuma pointed to the climate impacts in Africa as a reason for all governments to take action. He said, "We have experienced unusual and severe flooding in coastal areas in recent times, impacting on people directly as they lose their homes, jobs and livelihoods. Given the urgency, governments need to strive to find solutions here in Durban. Change and solutions are always possible, and Durban must take us many steps forward towards a solution that saves tomorrow today."
    The newly elected President of the conference, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, stressed that Durban would be a decisive moment for the future of the multilateral rules-based regime. She said, "In Durban, we need to show the world that we are ready to tackle and solve our very real problems in a practical manner.
    The UN's top climate change official, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said governments can take two major, decisive steps in Durban. The first step relates to completing the most comprehensive package ever to help developing countries adapt to climate change and to limit the growth of their greenhouse gas emissions, which was decided at the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun last year. She said, "The Technology Mechanism and the Adaptation Committee agreed in Cancun can be completed here in Durban so that they can begin benefitting people in 2012. And in Durban, the first phase of the design of the Green Climate Fund can be approved, as a major step on the road towards better supported climate action." Governments can also ramp up funding towards the $100 billion USD of long-term climate finance they have already agreed to provide by 2020 and need to work out the 'what' and the 'how' for a review agreed in Cancun that will assess the adequacy of a below 2 degrees Celsius temperature limit, including in relation to 1.5 degrees Celcius."
    The second decisive step that can be made in Durban relates to how governments will work together to achieve their common goal of limiting the global temperature rise to a level which will prevent the worst ravages of climate change. She said, "This means, as a central task for Durban, answering the very important question of the future of the Kyoto Protocol. At the same time, governments will need to agree on how they want to pursue a broader framework to reduce greenhouse gases under the Climate Change Convention."
    Figueres also drew attention to the fact that action on climate change is presently building nationally, regionally and at all levels of society, and that this positive momentum can feed into the UN climate change process. She said, "These negations are about securing a better future and improving the quality of life of people. The momentum for change is building, not least in developing countries. More can be achieved if governments and the private sector work in partnerships." 
    Together with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and South African President Jacob Zuma, the UN Climate Change secretariat will in Durban launch a "Momentum for Change" initiative on December 6, designed to demonstrate how the public and private sectors are already working together to fight climate change.
    Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), a leading U.S. environmental group, said in a release, "Although the ideal outcome of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) gathering is for countries to extend the Kyoto Protocol climate change agreement – significant parts of which will expire next year – and to set the course for a comprehensive binding agreement in the near future, those goals do not appear to be achievable." Jennifer Haverkamp, EDF's international climate program director said, "Given the current global political and economic situations, renewal of the Kyoto Protocol is highly unlikely. But that is no excuse for the world to sit back and do nothing. We need to build on the efforts of individual countries and regions so that every nation does their part to reduce the emissions that are harming our way of life." 
    EDF has prepared a report on recommendations and expectations for the Durban climate conference and is urging the climate conference to move forward in four key areas: A negotiating work plan with concrete goals for the next two years and a clear path toward a comprehensive, binding agreement; Agreements on financing arrangements for the Green Climate Fund, which will be dedicated to helping developing countries address and adapt to climate change; Positive signals to the carbon market that there's life after Durban, encouraging more countries to follow Europe, New Zealand, and most recently Australia's lead in setting a domestic carbon price; and Accounting rules for measuring emissions from land-use change and forestry that accurately determine whether countries have reduced their emissions and met their obligations.  
    On November 25, the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) announced that Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) recently met with Representatives of CFACT and invited CFACT to co-sponsor a press conference at COP17, tentatively scheduled for Monday, December 5. CFACT said, "Senator Inhofe has for years questioned the direction of U.S. and world global warming policy in the Senate and has consistently led efforts to balance the climate debate. Senator Inhofe has a long-standing relationship with Marc Morano who publishes CFACT's award-winning Climate Depot website.  Morano previously served on Senator Inhofe's staff. Morano will feature his report "From A-Z" which details a full gamut of failures in the argument for global warming."
    Access the UNFCCC release (click here). Access the opening address of Christiana Figueres (click here). Access the UNFCCC website for more information and details on the upcoming COP17/CMP7 meeting (click here). Access the host country website for additional information (click here). Access Earth Negotiations Bulletin daily coverage in Durban (click here). Access a release from EDF and link to their report (click here). Access a release from CFACT (click here). [#Climate] 

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