Negotiators at the UN climate talks have narrowly avoided a collapse, agreeing to the bare minimum deal possible.
Oxfam Australia’s climate policy adviser Kelly Dent, who is leading Oxfam International’s team in Durban, said the plan got the Green Climate Fund up and running without any sources of funding, preserved a narrow pathway to avoid 4 degrees of warming and secured a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol without key members.
“One of the only redeemable features of Australia’s conduct in Durban was to support the Green Climate Fund to get up and running,” Ms Dent said. “Whilst this is an important milestone, Australia failed to support progress on establishing new and innovative financing sources to fill the fund, such as a carbon price on international shipping and a financial transactions tax.
“Without these new sources, the fund will remain an empty shell and will not be able to provide critical support for developing countries to cope with the impacts of climate change.
“The Australian Government must join others around the world to immediately turn their attention to raising the ambition of their emissions cuts targets and filling the Green Climate Fund to help poor countries deal with climate change. Unless countries ratchet up their emissions cuts urgently, we could still be in store for a ten-year timeout on the action we need to stay under 2 degrees.”
An important page was turned on discussions of the legal form of a future agreement with the EU, US, Brazil, South Africa, India and China merging towards a common understanding. But after weeks of obstruction from the US, negotiators were unable to identify any concrete and reliable sources of money to fill the Green Climate Fund or ensure that new deeper targets for emissions cuts will be forthcoming.
Ms Dent said Australia, Brazil, South Africa, India and China could have been bolder by joining a ‘coalition of ambition’ with the EU and vulnerable countries to push for greater and faster emissions reductions. Negotiators may still need to leave the US behind in future talks to pursue the kind of deal that is sorely needed.
“The Durban Platform can only be described as a major disappointment,” Ms Dent said. “But the blame for this delay lies squarely on the shoulders of the US and other countries like Canada, Japan and Australia who dragged their feet from start to finish.”
The EU took an important step by signing onto a second period of the Kyoto Protocol, the bedrock of international efforts to fight climate change, and a key demand of African countries. But the new round of Kyoto falls short of what was expected and opens loopholes that weaken it. Australia has agreed to a second commitment period but has not put in emissions reduction targets.
The failure to seal an ambitious deal will have painful consequences for poor people around the world. A four degree temperature rise could be one of utter devastation for poor farmers who will face increasing hunger and poverty.
“People who care about the fate of the world’s poor and their own economic future should be angry that governments have failed to take adequate action here in Durban,” Ms Dent said. “But anger alone won’t solve climate change. There is still an opportunity to push forward in Rio to raise the level of ambition and cut the kind of deal we need. Those who are unable to negotiate for this kind of outcome should simply stay home.”
To interview Kelly Dent, please contact Laurelle Keough on 0409 960 100 or firstname.lastname@example.org