The United States considers the latest United Nations Climate Change Conference, which recently concluded in Durban, South Africa, a success, said U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern during a recent tele-conference.
The United States came to Durban with two basic objectives, said Ambassador Stern. First, to build on the key elements that came out of last year’s conference in Cancun, Mexico. These include, among others, the creation of a so-called Green Fund, a proposed $100 billion account which would help developing countries in financing emission reductions and climate change adaptation; and the establishment a transparency system for monitoring emissions reduction by both developed and developing countries; and the creation of a climate technology center and network.
Second, to begin formulation of a framework for an agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol: a framework that would apply equally and justly to all signatories.
The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement which sets targets for industrialized countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. The United States did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, because, as then-President George W. Bush said, doing so would have serious negative consequences for the economy of the United States.
The Kyoto Protocol requires developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by specified amounts, while putting no limits on those from the developing world, including fast-rising economies like China, India, Brazil and South Africa. Signatories not reaching the goal when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012 would be required to pay substantial fines.
“At the end of the day in Durban, there was, in fact, an agreement to pursue. . . .a legal instrument that would apply to all parties and that was, I think, notable. . . . It’s the first time that we’ve seen that kind of thing and is a significant achievement for Durban,” said Ambassador Stern.
Up to now, all legal agreements dealing with climate change have all been focused on developed countries, he said. Now the parameters will be more broadly applied, said Ambassador Stern.
“I think this has ended up being quite a significant agreement and very much along the lines of what we’ve been pushing.”