December 13, 2011 | 8:03 PM
After Durban: Closer to solutions, but a long road ahead
[caption id="attachment_5705" align="alignright" width="160" caption="© 2007 Flickr/Álvaro Canivell CC BY-NC-SA 2.0"]
In the early hours of Sunday, climate change negotiators from 195 countries brokered a deal
that brought the world one step closer to coordinated international action to solve the climate crisis. Here's the breakthrough they achieved: We finally have the promise that all countries, not just developed nations, will play an active role in the fight against global warming through a single international treaty.
Member countries of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
spent two weeks in Durban, South Africa
, negotiating how nations should address climate change; specifically, who should reduce carbon pollution, by how much, and how fast. At times, it seemed like the positions of different countries were so irreconcilable that the talks would collapse.
The European Union, several developing countries, and less developed countries (including African nations and small island states that are at the most risk from climate change) wanted the Kyoto Protocol
(the UNFCCC's only legally binding agreement now in effect) to be extended beyond its current expiration date of December 31, 2012. However, other nations like the U.S., Canada, Russia, Australia and Japan objected on the grounds that the Kyoto Protocol does not require any action from rapidly growing economies like India or China -- the latter of which is the world's biggest emitter of carbon pollution
Eventually, negotiators were able to produce a compromise: the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action
. Under this deal:
- The EU agreed to be bound by a second period of obligations under the Kyoto Protocol (which will now have an extended life from 2013 to 2020).