our assessment of the UN climate talks, 2011
Our analysis of the outcomes of the 2011 UN climate talks in Durban and a look at where the climate justice movement goes from here.
Developed countries engaged in a smoke and mirrors trick of delivering rhetoric but no action, failed to commit to urgently needed deep emissions cuts, and even backtracked on past commitments to address the climate crisis.
The outcome of the Durban talks, heralded by some as a step forward, in fact amounts to:
- No progress on fair and binding action on reducing emissions
- No progress on urgently needed climate finance
- Increased likelihood of further expansion of false solutions like carbon trading
- The further locking in of economies based on polluting fossil fuels
- The further unravelling of the legally-binding international framework to deliver climate action on the basis of science and equity.
While there was resistance from developing countries to the destructive proposals on the table in Durban, the final Durban outcome amounts to:
- A new “Durban Platform” which will delay climate action for a decade. Instead of implementing the existing, ambitious and equitable negotiating roadmap that was agreed in Bali four years ago, a new process to launch negotiations for a new treaty was agreed in Durban. The “Durban Platform” will delay much needed climate action for a decade.
- A substantial weakening of the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol is the only existing international framework for legally-binding emissions reductions by rich industrialised countries. These countries are responsible for three quarters of the emissions in the atmosphere despite only hosting 15% of the world’s population. The second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol has still not been formally agreed and would only cover the European Union and a handful of other developed countries.
- Drastically insufficient targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Taken alongside the expansive loopholes agreed to in Durban that serve to help countries avoid emissions cuts, these paltry pledges actually mean a likely net increase in emissions between now and 2020.
- A shift of the burden for climate action to developing countries, which have done the least to cause global warming, have the least resources to combat it, and face the additional burden of having to address pressing poverty alleviation and development needs.
- Absolutely no progress on urgently-needed, new and additional public finance for developing country climate action and adaptation measures to protect vulnerable communities from climate impacts. The Green Climate Fund was approved but with no means by which to fill the coffers and a provision agreed to that could allow multinational corporations and private financial actors to directly access the fund.
- The increased likelihood of new opportunities for carbon trading, a destructive false solution to the climate crisis which locks in climate inaction, drives land grabbing and displacement of communities, and could contribute to another global financial collapse.
“Developed countries, led by the United States, accelerated the demolition of the world’s international framework for fair and urgent climate action. And developing countries have been bullied and forced into accepting an agreement that could be a suicide pill for the world”
Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International.
WHERE NOW FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE?
We believe that we need to radically transform our global economy to create a more just and sustainable world. We need dramatic cuts in emissions on the basis of science and equity and a transformation in our economies to make this a reality.
Developed countries also have a moral and legal obligation to honour their climate debt and provide adequate public finance to developing countries to develop sustainably and protect the vulnerable from climate impacts.
A strong and fair UN agreement on climate is essential, and to get it we will work with others to strengthen the movement for justice in all countries and hold our governments to account to ensure that politics works for people and the planet, not for profit.