Climate talks end with late deal

Delegates and negotiators discuss the latest draft report in Durban, 10 December Elements of the draft text caused much discussion

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UN climate talks have closed with an agreement that the chair said had "saved tomorrow, today".

The European Union will place its current emission-cutting pledges inside the legally-binding Kyoto Protocol, a key demand of developing countries.

Talks on a new legal deal covering all countries will begin next year and end by 2015, coming into effect by 2020.

Management of a fund for climate aid to poor countries has also been agreed, though how to raise the money has not.

Talks ran nearly 36 hours beyond their scheduled close, with many delegates saying the host government lacked urgency and strategy.

Nevertheless, there was applause in the main conference hall when South Africa's International Relations Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, brought down the long-awaited final gavel.

"We came here with plan A, and we have concluded this meeting with plan A to save one planet for the future of our children and our grandchildren to come," she said.

"We have made history."

The conclusion was delayed by a dispute between the EU and India over the precise wording of the "roadmap" for a new global deal.

Start Quote

While they develop, we die; and why should we accept this?”

End Quote Karl Hood Foreign Minister of Grenada

India did not want a specification that it must be legally binding.

Eventually, a Brazilian diplomat came up with the formulation that the deal must have "legal force", which proved acceptable.

The roadmap proposal originated with the EU, the Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis) and the Least Developed Countries bloc (LDCs).

They argued that only a new legal agreement eventually covering emissions from all countries - particularly fast-growing major emitters such as China - could keep the rise in global average temperatures since pre-industrial times below 2C (3.6F), the internationally-agreed threshold.

"If there is no legal instrument by which we can make countries responsible for their actions, then we are relegating countries to the fancies of beautiful words," said Karl Hood, Grenada's Foreign Minister, speaking for Aosis.

"While they develop, we die; and why should we accept this?"

Impassioned arguments

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, president of the talks: "No one can walk out of this room and say we don't care about climate change"

Delegates from the Basic group - Brazil, South Africa, India and China - criticised what they saw as a tight timetable and excessive legality.

"I stand firm on my position of equity," said an impassioned Jayanthi Natarajan, India's environment minister.

"This is not about India, it is about the entire world."

India believes in maintaining the current stark division where only countries labelled "developed" have to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

Western nations, she said, have not cut their own emissions as they had pledged; so why should poorer countries have to do it for them?

Xie Zhenhua, head of the Chinese delegation, agreed.

Apparently trembling with rage, he berated the developed countries: "We are doing things you are not doing... we want to see your real actions".

However, Bangladesh and some other developing countries weighed in on the side of Aosis, saying a new legally-binding deal was needed.

Aosis and the LDCs agree that rich countries need to do more.

But they also accept analyses concluding that fast-developing countries such as China will need to cut their emissions several years in the future if governments are to meet their goal of keeping the rise in global average temperature since pre-industrial times below 2C.

Once the roadmap blockage had been cleared, everything else followed quickly.

Climate change glossary
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Action that helps cope with the effects of climate change - for example construction of barriers to protect against rising sea levels, or conversion to crops capable of surviving high temperatures and drought.

There were some surreal moment of confusion, but few objections, except from members of the Latin American Alba group, who said the developed world was not living up to its promises.

Green fund

A management framework was adopted for the Green Climate Fund, which will eventually gather and disburse finance amounting to $100bn (£64bn) per year to help poor countries develop cleanly and adapt to climate impacts.

There has also been significant progress on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD).

Environment groups were divided in their reaction, with some finding it a significant step forward and others saying it had done nothing to change the course of climate change.

Many studies indicate that current pledges on reducing emissions are taking the Earth towards a temperature rise of double the 2C target.

Michael Jacobs, visiting professor at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment in London, said the agreement could bring real changes.

"The agreement here has not in itself taken us off the 4C path we are on," he said.

"But by forcing countries for the first time to admit that their current policies are inadequate and must be strengthened by 2015, it has snatched 2C from the jaws of impossibility.

"At the same time it has re-established the principle that climate change should be tackled through international law, not national, voluntarism."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    RE Ice Ages: The Vostok core clearly shows this tempeature peak is 4degrees cooler than the previous 4 cycles, that the peak may have been reached 4,000 years ago and appears to indicate that long term another ice age is ineviitable. Regarding CO2,he carboniferous age had many times the present levels and life flourished

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    The arrogance of people believing that man has the ability to change the earths weather is amazing... just one question for them. What was the "man made" cause then for the ice age ending a few thousand years ago in Europe ??? Bingo there is not one. The earths weather goes up and down on its own doing!

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    @174 : Canadian researchers contribute to the IPCC report just like all nations do. Do you really think your making progress with your denier arguments ? Do you really think you are on the verge of overturning the theory of AGW ? Better tell the people at Durban !!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    'Look at CFCs - no hoax there. Why this sudden distrust of science? Because politicians are now on board.'

    Err, you are a little bit behind the times. Recent reports suggest the ozone hole is bigger than ever. Your politicians theory is nonesense. Thatcher mentioned climate change when she was in power.

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    179.Steve in Hungary
    "They" - being the biggest users of CO2 emitting fuels - are just going to ignore it, just as Canada has announced that it will remove itself from Kyoto.Lemming-like, the human race races towards the extinction of all life on this space ship.
    @Good for Canada.This winter around three thousand will die of cold in the UK.Global warming, if true, could help them survive

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    An unimaginably wasteful pointless Taxpayer funded circus!

    Ice caps are fine. Temp hasn't gone up in 15 years! 5x more Polar Bears today than in the 70's.

    It is time we got rid of these FRAUDULENT WATERMELON infested NGO's and the unelected UN bodies and unelected government institutions that fund them to stupidly parrot fraudulent scare stories.

    This hysteria driven gravy train must stop.

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    I remember when scientists and yes, 'environmentalists', warned about global warming long before politicians ever took notice. In those days politicians were accused of conspiring to hide the damage being done! The science, though still developing, (publicly) came first, let's not forget that. Look at CFCs - no hoax there. Why this sudden distrust of science? Because politicians are now on board.

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.


    For a planet that is 4.6billion years old, using ~100 years of hard data (because before that we have no actual measurements to the accuracy required, just guesstimates) to predict what is happening is guesswork in my book.

    As I said, I think we have more imminent problems with population than with GW. Don't see these being addressed anywhere though :(

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    Dont worry.. Bransons on the case.. Soon we will all have our own planet to escape to and all the abundant resources and clean air one could ask for... We could start all over again..... ALIENS LOOKOUT!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    Scientists should always be sceptics or deniers. Scientific thinking freed Europe from the tyranny of religious superstition, and actually placed religion on a rational footing. But science must be negative or it lapses into dogma and superstition, as seen in attempts to suppress debate on the climate.
    Durban could benefit science

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    "They" - being the biggest users of CO2 emitting fuels - are just going to ignore it, just as Canada has announced that it will remove itself from Kyoto.

    Lemming-like, the human race races towards the extinction of all life on this space ship. It is all we have.

    We, the population, have to remove these people that would do this. I don't know how!

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.


    Climate science is not based on "guesswork", there are millions upon millions of observations and measurements being made continually both on the ground and from satellites.

    To see the empirical evidence for AGW see here:

    Population is certainly a problem though, I won't disagree with you there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    171. Yes, it is a geopolitical tool, but it is also more than that, I would say. It has a scientific basis, otherwise it would never wash. Politicians need a real fire in order to act, but then, unfortunately, they can manipulate the outcome to suite their purposes. It is wise to monitor and regulate emissions though, but not necessarily in the way they suggest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    I'm a GW sceptic. I'm a sceptic because the underlying science is based on guesswork and very incomplete data. Also the predictions made don't seem to be coming true. Do I think it's good to limit our impact on the environment - yes I do - and that includes "greenhouse" and other gases.

    As has been said elsewhere in these comments, global overpopulation is by far a more real and imminent problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    Good news for the world.Apart from the BBC people are seeing through the climate scam.Thanks US.With the end of climate nonsense we can concentrate on proper scientific research and education of our science students. It is time that we dumped the tacit requirment to insert into every grant application a reference to climate change. Nice one with the cannabal polar bears. Dear me. Pure propaganda.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    Minutes ago
    AGW deniers believe that the worlds scientists are engaged in a giant communist conspiracy.. What I want to know is, who do you think is listening to your scientific arguments ? who ? The 194 nations at Durban are not listening, so who ?

    Thousands of scientists disagree with the theory. Nations like Canada won't sign so they don't think the world is going to end just yet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    If all these countries believe that we need to change our life style they should lead by example, video conferencing is cheaper and cleaner than jetting all over the world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    Why is it that someone like me, who is childless & will forever remain so, worries so much more about other peoples' children, & their children, than so many of you do?

    I have no evolutionary need to worry about the impending catastrophe that won't really kick in until after I die - shame each & everyone with kids who denies GW &/or does not act are condeming your progeny......

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    Back in the 80s Gorbachev said "The threat of environmental crisis will be the 'international disaster key' that will unlock the New World Order". That's why I am very sceptical of so called Climate Change - it's a geopolitical tool and nothing more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    AGW deniers believe that the worlds scientists are engaged in a giant communist conspiracy but often they don't admit this and phrase their arguments in the language of science. What I want to know is, who do you think is listening to your scientific arguments ? who ? The 194 nations at Durban are not listening, so who ?


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