Progress at Durban but no action for nine years

The ‘Durban Platform’ may become as commonly known as the Kyoto Protocol, following a loose agreement at this month’s Durban climate change summit on a plan to work towards a global climate strategy. The plan is to agree the strategy by 2015 and for it to start in 2020.

[mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]The failure of recent climate summits, notably the one in Copenhagen two years ago, had lowered expectations, so the ‘roadmap to a legally binding global agreement’ has been painted as something of a success. However, a number of environmental groups said there was little to cheer in the Durban Platform, as it will do nothing for another nine years, and all the science suggests failure to tackle the problem now will make it a much harder task later, with a likely rise in temperatures of four degrees.

There are very few details at this stage, but the presence in the agreement of the three leading emitters of greenhouse gases – China, India and the USA – has been seen as a breakthrough. The EU has committed to a second round of binding emissions reduction targets, to be submitted to the UN by May. Three non-EU members – Iceland, Norway and Switzerland – will also be part of this commitment.

In transport, the biggest areas under discussion were emissions from aviation and shipping, but a proposal to put a charge on shipping that would help finance the Green Climate Fund did not make it into the final text. Both the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the International Maritime Organisation say they will continue their own efforts to reduce aviation’s and shipping’s climate impact, but while the IMO has made some progress with its Energy Efficiency Design Index, Icao has been strongly criticised by NGOs for dragging its feet on all measures to tackle the climate impact of air transport.