New U.N. climate deal struck, critics say gains modest

After a 36 hour extension to COP 17 in Durban there is a new agreement which must be finalised by 2015 to begin in 2020. The Kyoto Protocol will be extended until at least 2017.  These are the Sunday morning press that declare the agreement to the World.

N.B. – It should be noted that emissions reduction tergets have not been addressed to ensure that global warming is reduced to less than 2 degrees as agreed at Copenhagen and Cancun. HOWEVER,  a new I.P.C.C. report is due in 2014 which will update the science and the existing 2007 Data Set from I.P.C.C.

2012 NEEDS TO BE A BIG YEAR FOR THE PLANET – AS WELL AS THE COP 18 CONFERENCE AT QATAR, THERE IS THE 20th ANNIVERSARY OF “THE RIO EARTH SUMMIT”,  –  the U.N. conference which began all these discussions in 1992.


 The 194-party conference agreed to start negotiations on a new accord that would ensure that countries will be legally bound to carry out any pledges they make. It would take effect by 2020 at the latest.

The package of accords extended the Kyoto Protocol, the only global pact that enforces carbon cuts, agreed the format of a fund to help poor countries tackle climate change and mapped out a path to a legally binding agreement on emissions reductions.

But many small island states and developing nations at risk of being swamped by rising sea levels and extreme weather said the deal marked the lowest common denominator possible and lacked the ambition needed to ensure their survival.

“We came here with plan A, and we have concluded this meeting with plan A to save one planet for the future of our children and our grandchildren to come,” said South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who chaired the talks.

“We have made history,” she said, bringing the hammer down on Durban conference, the longest in two decades of U.N. climate negotiations.

Britain’s Energy and Climate Secretary Chris Huhne said the result was “a great success for European diplomacy.”

“We’ve managed to bring the major emitters like the U.S., India and China into a roadmap which will secure an overarching global deal,” he said.

U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern said Washington was satisfied with the outcome: “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.”

“It’s certainly not the deal the planet needs — such a deal would have delivered much greater ambition on both emissions reductions and finance,” said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Producing a new treaty by 2015 that is both ambitious and fair will take a mix tough bargaining and a more collaborative spirit than we saw in the Durban conference centre these past two weeks.”

When Worlds Collide, Naom Chomsky on the UNFCCC Durban talks.



 The standard “he says/she says” coverage of the issue keeps to what is called “balance”: the overwhelming majority of scientists on one side, the denialists on the other. The scientists who issue the more dire warnings are largely ignored.

One effect is that scarcely one-third of the U.S. population believes that there is a scientific consensus on the threat of global warming – far less than the global average, and radically inconsistent with the facts.

As ominous reports were released this year from I.E.A. & U.N. agencies, the Financial Times devoted a full page to the optimistic expectations that the U.S. might become energy-independent for a century with new technology for extracting North American fossil fuels.

Though projections are uncertain, the Financial Times reports, the U.S. might “leapfrog Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world’s largest producer of liquid hydrocarbons, counting both crude oil and lighter natural gas liquids.”

In this happy event, the U.S. could expect to retain its global hegemony. Beyond some remarks about local ecological impact, the Financial Times said nothing about what kind of a world would emerge from these exciting prospects. Energy is to burn; the global environment be damned.