Friday, December 16, 2011

COP-17 -- good news, bad news

Well, COP-17 meeting in Durban, S. Africa has just been completed with some good news and some bad news. Here is my take on the meeting.

The good news is they agreed to something (well almost -- Canada are acting as arrogant and selfish (1)), especially since little was expected from them. They basically agreed to begin negotiations on a legally binding (2) replacement treaty next year, with these negotiations ending in 2015 and provisions becoming due in 2020.

The fact that they agreed to a legally binding treaty (versus a voluntary one) is good; however, without an enforcement mechanism they do not have any real bite. For example, Kyoto is legally binding, but that did not prevent countries from completely ignoring it.

The biggest problem with the whole agreement is that it does not actually do anything. It will not reduce carbon dioxide (or any other greenhouse gases) for at least another nine years, when the problem needs urgent action. Remember that Kyoto ends in one year, we therefore will have no treaty at all for eight years.

A lot has been said about the Global Climate Fund, but that is really a lot about nothing. The Fund had already been agreed to last year and no agreement has been made on how to fund it. Considering their poor record on humanitarian aid, I do not have much hope.

The BBC has has good coverage of the meeting. The results are given in this article and here is reaction to it. See their other articles for more information.

A more technical description of the agreement can be found here.


(1) This is toned down, my actual thoughts are not publishable :).

(2) Actually, they could be with "legal force" - but nobody knows what that means