Failure at Durban will harm Rio+20

29th November 2011


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  • Mitigation

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IEMA

UN calls on governments to agree action on climate change measures at "make or break" Durban conference, or risk damaging future negotiations.

As the two-week climate change conference opened in South Africa yesterday, the UN stressed the importance of the meeting in enabling multilateral action to mitigate climate change, amid fears the Durban conference may produce as few results as the Copenhagen summit in 2009.

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, addressed the delegates urging them to ensure policies agreed in Cancún last year are translated into action.

“We meet here at a time when greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere have never been higher, when the number of livelihoods that have been dissolved by climate change impacts has never been greater and when the need for action has never been more compelling or more achievable,” she said.

In opening the conference South African president Jacob Zuma reminded attendees of the serious threat posed by the world’s changing climate.

“For most people in the developing world and Africa, climate change is a matter of life and death,” he said.

He argued that climate change was not simply an environmental challenge, but a sustainable development challenge and called on governments to look beyond their national interests to find a solution that would benefit all of humanity.

“We have come a long way since Copenhagen and Cancún. Durban must take us many steps forward towards a solution that saves tomorrow today,” he concluded.

However, as Zuma opened the talks it was reported that Canada will formally withdraw from the Kyoto accord next month, reinforcing fears that with a number of countries likely to miss their Kyoto commitments it is unlikely further greenhouse-gas reduction targets will be agreed on.

According to UN independent expert on human rights and international solidarity Virginia Dandan, a failure at these talks could be catastrophic.

Failure in Durban would impact on the three pillars of the UN – namely, peace and security, development and human rights, and pin the world down to ground zero,” she said.

“Greater cooperation and solidarity are required now more than ever before, to face the challenges posed by climate change such as the intensification and increasing frequency of natural disasters, as well as the continuing and widening poverty gap, and the series of food, energy, economic and financial global crises.”

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