On Climate 4 Paths to Progress in Durban


With time running out, global challenge requires global solutions; Nations must forge a new cooperation at UNFCCC talks in South Africa

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Arlington VA – The window of opportunity to halt climate change is rapidly closing, and demands urgent, collective, creative leadership by nations at U.N. climate talks in Durban to avoid dangerous and potentially irreversible consequences to life on Earth.

That is among the key guidance that Conservation International (CI), with a delegation of scientific, economic, social and policy experts from developed and developing nations around the globe, will bring to world leaders meeting in Durban South Africa from November 28 to December 9th at the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

In Durban, where negotiators are due to make difficult decisions about the future of the emissions-limiting Kyoto Protocol, which will reach the end of its first commitment period in 2012, much of the focus will be on the future of the Protocol and on a timetable to deliver a legally binding, comprehensive global climate treaty in some future year.  However, Conservation International believes that meaningful progress can and will also be made this year, if immediate agreements are achieved in at least four key areas:

  1. A mandate for a new, legal climate agreement with meaningful commitments from emitting nations. While countries don't have to conclude a new climate treaty in Durban, they must negotiate with the explicit intention of moving to a new legal framework for all countries.

  2. Detailed decisions on REDD+ that provide clear, common and rigorous rules for countries so that they can implement, report, and measure REDD+ action in a way that ensures it will be a sound investment.

  3. Guidelines to operationalize the Green Climate Fund, conceptually created by the Cancun Agreements, that create a financial blueprint for how climate money is managed, with allocation for adaptation to comprise at least 50% of climate funding.

  4. Design and creation of an Adaptation Committee with strong representation from developing and least developed nations, whose function will be to support international adaptation action into the future and establish links to finance mechanisms that fund and sustain adaptation activities.

"We absolutely need a comprehensive climate treaty soon, which puts climate mitigation and adaptation high on the global policy, development and economic agendas. But in these key details, Parties in Durban can take concrete action this year, creating the enabling conditions that will allow REDD+ to become the transformative mitigation and conservation mechanism we know it can be," said Rebecca Chacko, CI's Senior Director for international climate policy.

With deep expertise in the emissions reduction scheme known as REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation plus conservation) and in climate adaptation, Conservation International and its partners have worked to implement local, subnational and national-level pilot projects on four continents for years. Among CI's primary activities have been REDD-readiness training workshops and consultations in 14 countries since 2007 for governments and indigenous communities; economic and scientific modeling of deforestation and REDD+ interventions to predict impacts and determine baselines; and the piloting of multiple ecosystem-based adaptation projects in nations vulnerable to climate change, which were submitted as successful examples to the UNFCCC's Nairobi Work Program.

On policy for REDD+, Conservation International stresses the importance of Parties agreeing to decisions on sources of financing that are adequate, predictable and sustainable, and which allow for the inclusion of public, market and innovative sources.

"Realistically, the $100 billion per year promised by developed countries by 2020 is just a starting point. Estimates indicate that $25-30 billion dollars per year will be needed just to reduce emissions from deforestation. Much more will be needed to adapt to climate impacts. These may sound like large sums, especially in these economically challenging times, but REDD+ is one of the most immediate and cost-effective ways to reduce global emissions, slow climate change, and ensure that forests can provide life-supporting services to people and biodiversity," said Chacko.

"Plus, according to the most recent report of the International Energy Agency, every dollar we fail to invest in this mitigation measures now will cost us more than four dollars in the future to address the consequences. In this light, the best way we see to achieve the scale of funding required is through a combination of public and market sources of financing for REDD+."

To ensure REDD+ is a safe investment for these various sources, Conservation International advises Parties in Durban to establish common approaches in three key areas:

  • Reference Levels: We need guidelines for national Reference Levels that are clear & rigorous, to make REDD+ activities a sound investment.

  • MRV: We need clear guidance on how countries Measure, Report and Verify emission reductions so that investors can be confident that REDD+ activities are producing real mitigation results.

  • Safeguards: We need guidance so that countries can provide clear information on REDD+ so we know it will be socially and environmentally beneficial, while ensuring the rights and active participation of indigenous peoples and local communities.

On the issue of the Kyoto Protocol and emissions reductions, Dr. Fred Boltz, CI's Senior Vice President of Global Initiatives and Climate Change Lead said, "There's no question, the Kyoto Protocol is important and Parties should do everything possible to preserve it and avoid any backslide in Durban. However even the Protocol will not be able to achieve necessary reductions on its own. We must work toward delivering a comprehensive climate treaty that holds all nations accountable to lower emissions targets, with respect for common but differentiated responsibility, meaning developed countries and historic emitters have a greater responsibility."

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, CI's Vice President for International Policy and a former environmental minister for Costa Rica emphasized, "There is no time left for hard-line positions or absolutes. Climate change is a global problem that requires global solutions. So it is essential for Parties to come ready to roll up their sleeves, demonstrate real leadership, and find common ground."

Agreeing on that point, Dr. Boltz added, "We simply cannot keep kicking this can down the road. Climate change is not waiting for political consensus."

"Every year that countries put this off, the potential consequences escalate. The best available science warns that the countdown toward irreversible climate change has already begun and suggests that we have but five years left to change course. So this is the decade we must address this problem. Not in 2020. Failure to do so would be irresponsible."

"There are solutions at hand and self-interests that should motivate us to act," stressed Rodriguez. "It is my great hope that countries leverage the good will they rebuilt in Cancun last year, and deliver substantive decisions in Durban that allow us to maximize these solutions for the good of all nations. Our futures are tied. These are among the most important decisions we will make for our children."


Learn more at: www.conservation.org/COP17

For more information, contact:

Kim McCabe, Senior Director, News + Media Relations, Conservation International
office: +1-703-341-2504 / mobile: +1-571-223-0455 / kmccabe@conservation.org   

Katrin Olson, Corporate Communications Director, Conservation International

Patricia Yakabe Malentaqui, International Media Manager, Conservation International
office : +1 703-341-2471; pmalentaqui@conservation.org

Tessa Mildenhall, Director Operations & Communications, Conservation South Africa; tmildenhall@conservation.org

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 900 employees working in nearly 25 countries on four continents, plus 1,000+ partners around the world. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@ConservationOrg).

Conservation South Africa (CSA) - CSA is committed to helping society to adopt a more sustainable approach to development, one that considers and values nature at every turn. Over the last decade CSA has demonstrated Conservation International's mission of delivering human well-being through conservation of healthy ecosystems and the goods and services they produce. CSA is a member of the CI network, which has offices in more than 30 countries, more than 1,000 partner organisations, and thousands of projects worldwide. Visit for more information: www.conservation.org/southafrica