Uniqueness of the Outcome of the Durban Climate Change Conference (COP17) with reference to previous Climate Change Conferences

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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

FOR ORAL REPLY

QUESTION NO: 11 (NO291E)

PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO 3-2012 OF 21 FEBRUARY 2012

Mrs W S Newhoudt-Druchen (ANC) to ask the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation:

How unique has the outcome of the Durban Climate Change conference (COP17) been with reference to previous climate change conferences?

REPLY

Durban was one of the largest conferences of the UNFCCC process, with only Copenhagen recording a greater number of participants. Historically, with the largest agenda translating into initially 55 negotiating tracks and ultimately escalating to 60. Decisions across all the negotiating tracks were made (19 under COP17 and 17 under CMP7) with an additional 20 decisions under the AWG-LCA.

The key achievements in Durban included the following:

  1. The historic Durban Platform for Enhanced Action anchors all the decisions in the Durban package. Not only does the Durban Plan reset the system but it also integrates and paces the climate change negotiations under the UNFCCC in a time framed manner, defining tangible results that must be accomplished and also stabilises how the current process moves forward into the future. The Durban Platform has rescued and rekindled the multilateral negotiations on climate change. It has restored trust in UNFCCC and laid a solid foundation to realise progress in terms of addressing climate change. Without the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action there would not have been a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, the establishment of the Green Climate Fund, or the Adaptation Committee, etc. and it is doubtful whether the system would have survived without agreement on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action which is now the pivot of the UNFCCC process which should result in a more ambitious, stable, coherent and comprehensive climate change regime.

  2. The 2nd Commitment of the Kyoto Protocol, which was unanimously agreed to by all Parties, was essential to the preservation of the integrity of the multilateral response to climate change. As such, it stabilises the current system, which is a necessary building block for the future. It was the failure to address the issue of the 2nd commitment of the Kyoto Protocol and the future which led to the Copenhagen debacle.

  3. The establishment of the Green Climate Fund through the adoption of the report of the Transitional Committee and the COP’s approval of the governing instrument was another key delivery with the decision furthermore establishing the board, interim secretariat, as well as the trustee. The first meeting of the board needs to be convened by 30 April 2012. Switzerland and the Republic of Korea offered to host the first and second meetings. We have to guard against the accusation that this Fund will only become an “empty shell”.
  4. An agreement was reached on a work programme on long-term sources of finance.

    Discussions on the sources of long-term finance have previously taken place in fora outside of the UNFCCC process. Agreeing on a work programme on the sources of long-term finance brings the discussion into the UNFCCC process for the first time in the history of the negotiations. The COP furthermore gave the COP17/CMP7 Presidency the responsibility to appoint the two co-chairs for the work programme on long-term finance while the Standing Committee on Finance gets up and running.

  5. A commitment to the rule of international law is central to the honouring of agreements reached with respect to past COPs/CMPs held in Bali and Cancun. This was achieved through the establishment of the Adaptation Committee, which was an important achievement for developing countries, particularly in Africa, since it will ensure an integrated approach towards adaptation; agreement on the modalities and guidelines for National Adaptation Plans; a work programme on loss and damage; establishment of the Technology Mechanism, including the Technology Executive Committee and agreement on the terms of reference for the Climate Technology Centre and Network; establishment of the Registry for developing country mitigation actions seeking support; establishment of the Forum on response measures and agreement on its work programme; and agreement to develop new market-based mechanisms.

In conclusion, as the COP/CMP President, we succeeded in guiding the climate change negotiations forward, bridging past deadlocks which in effect saved the multilateral system and will in fact now focus on placing our planet back on a path of concrete outcomes within set timeframes to counter dangerous temperature rises and their catastrophic consequences to humanity.

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