11 Dec 2011

Durban climate talks produce last-minute deal

After talks running over into Sunday morning, the Durban UN conference on climate change finally ends with an agreement to extend the Kyoto Protocol, due to expire next year.

The package of deals extends the Kyoto Protocol, which runs out at the end of 2012, and begins negotiations for a new, legally binding treaty to be decided by 2015 and to come into force by 2020. It also creates a green climate fund to help poor nations tackle global warming.

The European Union will now place its current emission-cutting pledges inside the legally binding Kyoto Protocol – a key demand of developing countries.

Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, said: “We think we had the right strategy. We think that it worked, and the very good thing is that now all big economies, all parties, will have to commit in the future in a legal way.

“That was what we came for, plus a number of other things – for instance, we have a lot of implementation and many other things. But this is very good and it has been in a very constructive way.”

EU diplomatic success

UK Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said: “When the European Union is united and we actually act together, we are very formidable and a very strong force to be reckoned with.

“What we have done today is actually a great success for European diplomacy. We’ve managed to put this on the map and we’ve managed to bring the major emitters, like the United States and India and China, into a roadmap which will secure an over-arching global deal.”

When the European Union is united, we are very formidable and a very strong force. Chris Huhne, climate change secretary

US climate envoy Todd Stern said: “We got the kind of symmetry that we had been focused on since the beginning of the Obama administration. This had all the elements that we were looking for.”

The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement, agreed in 1997, that comes under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. It sets binding targets for 37 industrialised countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5 per cent against 1990 levels, from 2008-12.

Developing nations do not have binding emissions targets but are encouraged to take voluntary steps to curb the growth of carbon dioxide pollution from power stations, cars and industry.