Climate Conference Reaches Deal In South Africa


(RFE/RL) — A deal has been reached in South Africa to strengthen controls on the gases that cause global warming.

Delegates from 194 nations had been meeting in Durban for nearly two weeks to agree on new emission targets as spelled out in the 1997 Kyoto protocol.

Those Kyoto targets, or limits on how much greenhouse gases nations can emit, were set to expire next year.

According to reports, the meeting in Durban agreed to start negotiations on a new accord whose targets would be applicable to all nations, unlike current limits which only apply to industrial nations.

The new accord should take effect by 2020 at the latest.

In the meantime, the current limits set to expire next year, will be extended by another five years.

The delegates also agreed to set up bodies that will collect, govern and distribute tens of billions of dollars a year for poor countries.

Indian Environment Minister, Jayanthi Natarajan (eds. a woman) hailed the outcome as a “success.”

“It was a very good success and we’re happy that this major success was achieved despite so many different points of view and we showed, and other people also showed great flexibility. So we’re happy that it’s a great success.”

Earlier, South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane who chaired the conference urged delegates to compromise.

“I think we all realize they are not perfect. But we should not let the perfect become the enemy of the good and the possible. The text before you could contribute greatly to the world to deal with climate change.”

Many environmentalists said tough decisions had been postponed.

“Right now the global climate regime amounts to nothing more than a voluntary deal that’s put off for a decade. This could take us over the two degree threshold where we pass from danger to potential catastrophe,” said Kumi Naidoo, executive director at Greenpeace International.

“We expected to have the Kyoto Protocol saved in Durban and that’s what they did today, well, this morning. And what we’re worried about among NGOs is that while Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period was agreed to, many of the key elements in the Kyoto Protocol was deferred for decision-making for next year,” explained Nasim Essop, the head of the WWF delegation.

According to research presented at the Durban talks, the world is on track for a 3.5 C rise, spelling worsening droughts, floods, storms and rising sea levels for tens of millions of people.


RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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