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Outcomes from the Durban Climate Talks

by helen on December 14, 2011

Thank you to everyone who acted and prayed as part of Hope for Creation ahead of this year’s climate talks in Durban, South Africa.

The talks ended with an agreement amongst all countries called the ‘Durban Platform’. This brought some minor progress towards the global action needed but not enough. Much more needs to happen to agree the ambitious action required to protect poor countries that are hit hardest.

Here’s a round-up of what was agreed.

For more detail, please download Tearfund’s policy summary.

Emissions cuts
The climate talks ended (eventually) with the ‘Durban Platform’ – an agreement amongst all countries to agree a plan on global emissions reductions by 2015 at the latest, with legally binding targets for all countries to kick in by 2020.

To keep things going in the meantime, a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (the existing agreement between rich nations) has been agreed by some developed countries.

This agreement could result in average global temperature rises of 3-4˚C through only requiring global emissions cuts targets to take effect by 2020. This potential temperature rise is deeply worrying because it could result in:

- another billion people with increased water stress;
- decreased crop productivity for all rather than some cereals in low latitudes;
- up to 5 times more people becoming at risk of coastal flooding;
- the burden on health services being much more substantial;
- and 20-30% of plant and animal species being at increased risk of extinction (impacting people as humans rely on ecosystems).

Adaptation
Adaptation should be a priority because even if greenhouse gas emissions are halted today across the world, the cumulative effect of emissions to date would still be experienced for the next three decades. There was not a sufficient sense of urgency on adaptation during the climate talks. Despite hopes that adaptation would feature more strongly as the talks were in Africa, negotiations in this area were sadly slow.

Finance
Across all richer nations there were clear commitments on how to deliver the previously promised climate finance. Developing countries felt vulnerable and distrustful of past promises on emissions and finance from rich countries.

A work plan was also set up in Durban, ‘to progress’ work on finance and produce a report by the next talks in Qatar in December 2012. This is a small step forward, but ‘progress’ is un-ambitious and an actual decision is needed.

What happens next?
Please continue to pray for more ambition from leaders so the door to keeping global warming below the danger-threshold remains open. Pray also for agreement soon on ways to deliver finance to help poor countries – who are hit hardest – respond.

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