Durban Climate Change Conference Averts Collapse, Negotiations on New Treaty Delayed

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Posted Dec. 14, 2011

Interview with Daphne Wysham, , co-director of the Institute for Policy Studies’ Sustainable Energy and Economy Network, conducted by Scott Harris

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As the 17th Conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Durban, South Africa concluded on Dec. 11, many environmental activists were disappointed with the results, but relieved that the talks hadn’t collapsed. With the 1997 Kyoto protocol treaty on global warming set to expire, the conference in Durban was tasked with negotiating an agreed-upon path toward developing a new international treaty that will control greenhouse gas emissions.

Negotiators from the European Union argued for a legally binding treaty that would cover the entire world, including developing nations that had been exempt under Kyoto. The 11th hour agreement hammered out in Durban pledged to work toward a new global treaty by 2015, but due to objections from India and China, the legal force of such an agreement remains ambiguous. Negotiators in Durban also established a $100 billion Green Climate Fund to assist poor nations in adapting to climate change and reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. But the source of the money for the fund has not yet been settled.

While there was progress in some areas, leading scientists are alarmed that the conference in Durban failed to agree on any plan to dramatically cut emissions necessary to avoid the future destructive effects of global warming. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Daphne Wysham, co-director of the Institute for Policy Studies’ Sustainable Energy and Economy Network. She summarizes the outcome of the U.N. Durban conference and the role the Obama administration played in the climate talks.

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