Statement on Outcome of Durban COP17 Climate Summit

12/10/2011

Conservation International: Durban deal holds great potential, but must translate to real action on climate change

 

Durban, South Africa — The UN climate talks in Durban have closed with an agreement on critical issues, namely the extension of the only existing emissions reduction mechanism, the Kyoto Protocol, establishment of a Green Climate Fund to provide finance to developing nations, and creation of a Durban Platform for pursuing a comprehensive climate agreement in 2015, including all nations in the global effort to address the climate crisis. The agreement represents a step forward — a modest commitment with extraordinary potential for real action — Conservation International (CI) said today.

Dr. Fred Boltz, Senior Vice President Global Initiatives and Climate Change Lead for Conservation International, said: "The global community has recognized the importance of continued commitments to reduce emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, that funding must be channeled to developing countries and that all nations must be part of the solution. We are pleased to see progress in those three areas, but on the other hand, all of these decisions are just a blueprint, not firm commitments to action — they are agreements to continue negotiating, to potentially commit to future agreements, to future funding and to future action."

"There is no certainty that countries will fulfill meaningful commitments under the second period of the Kyoto Protocol. Funding has not been committed to capitalize the Green Climate Fund, so we have effectively a bank account with no money. And, not only is there no certainty that we will have a 2015 agreement among all nations, but also, implementation of that agreement has been put off to 2020. 2020 is too late. If we begin taking climate change mitigation actions at the necessary scale in 2020, we will have missed the 2 degrees Celsius window. If we rely on this agenda set by the UNFCCC to set the magnitude and timing of climate actions, we will not avoid dangerous climate change."

Progress on REDD+

The most promising outcomes of Durban included agreement on standards for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, a UN scheme known as REDD+ in which developing countries are compensated for keeping forests standing, thereby reducing emissions caused by deforestation.

Dr. Boltz said: "The agreement that market and nonmarket sources may fund REDD+ is a very positive step, one which provides for the scale of investment needed to to realize the promise of this emissions mitigation option. This can and must be done immediately — we must stop deforestation this decade. This alone would reduce annual emissions by 1/6 and significantly increase our chances of meeting the 2 degrees Celsius target. This is not sufficient, but it is essential."

Next steps

"In order for the Durban outcomes to be truly meaningful, we need to transform some of these ‘empty shells’ into real action. We must press our leaders to take action at a scale commensurate with the climate challenge, including aggressive action under the second period of the Kyoto Protocol and the fulfillment of pledges made under the 2009 Copenhagen accord to mitigate climate change and to finance poor countries. By 2015, we should be able to scale up actions as a global community and take on the additional commitments needed to avoid dangerous climate change and to build the adaptive capacity of vulnerable communities and nations. Durban showed that the UNFCCC is a forum for collective action, not a mechanism that should govern and constrain the pace or magnitude of our efforts — or we will fail.

"Now is the time to take that bold and urgent step to a climate secure, prosperous and productive future — for historic leadership by traditional and new economic powers. For action by the private sector to build low GHG technologies and to invest in their own sustainability by incorporating robust measures of climate change adaptation. It is time for action by the community of nations to move beyond pointing fingers and exhibit the leadership worthy of the admiration of our children and generations to come," Dr. Boltz concluded.

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Learn more at: www.conservation.org/cop17

Note to editors:
Conservation International (CI) — Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity, for the long term well-being of people. Founded in 1987, CI has headquarters in the Washington, DC area, and nearly 900 employees working in more than 30 countries on four continents, plus 1,000+ partners around the world. For more information, visit www.conservation.org , and follow us on Twitter: @ConservationOrg or Facebook: www.facebook.com/conservation.intl