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SOUTH AFRICA: Climate change talks

12/12/2011 by Alan Cole in the UK

Politicians claim historic result on climate change but environmental charities press for greater action

World leaders at the international climate change conference have committed to a landmark new framework to cut emissions over the next decade.

The outcome of the talks in Durban, South Africa is the first time the USA, China and India have all agreed on commitments to reduce carbon emissions.

Following the conclusion of the talks, South African minister Nkoana-Mashabane congratulated delegates on a "broad and balanced result" and for their "political will to move this process forward".

Details of the UN climate talks agreement include an amendment of the Kyoto Protocol, and agreement on new funding arrangements for the Green Climate Fund and also a plan for the future of the Climate Change Regime. The plans are outlined in the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action which involves the largest pool of countries committed to reducing carbon emissions so far.

A major victory for environmentalists is that the EU and other countries have signed up to a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol that ends in 2013. There were fears that such an agreement would not be made and that previous progress on halting climate change from Kyoto would be stunted.

The new Durban agreement provides commitments up until a new phase is introduced in 2020. Outcomes include a new Green Climate Fund to help poorer countries that will distribute around 60 billion pounds per year from 2020.

However, environmental charities say the agreements from the talks do not go far enough, with Greenpeace leading the call for global governments to do more.

In fact, Greenpeace has gone as far as describing the talks as a failure. Greenpeace wants to see a peak in global emissions by 2015, and the charity has drawn attention to the vague commitments on offer from many legislators, especially the USA.

In Durban Greenpeace protesters with champagne bottles dressed up as the representatives of big business - ironically toasting the outcome of the talks, as a celebration for the business interests of industrial polluters.

"The grim news is that the blockers led by the US have succeeded in inserting a vital get out clause that could easily prevent the next big climate deal being legally binding," says Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo.

Greenpeace is calling on President Barack Obama to listen to the people not the polluters.

The results of the conference have been met by widespread disappointment from the main environmental charities who are now stepping up their calls for more decisive commitment from world leaders.

Friends of the Earth have described the agreement as feeble especially in the light of recent research which shows that urgent action is needed to prevent a five degree warming in global temperatures.

A new study by the UK Met Office says if emissions are not reduced millions of people could be at increased risk of climate change related flooding by the end of the 21st Century, especially across Asia.

"If Durban is to be a historic stepping stone towards success the world must urgently agree ambitious targets to slash emissions," Friends of the Earth's Executive Director Andy Atkins said.

In order to prevent the ecological and economic havoc that climate change is creating, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and others are calling on supporters to up their campaigning spirit.

The main environmental charities are asking people to support them as they renew their efforts to tackle the world's polluters and pressure governments to implement bigger and more committed green energy solutions.

Better investment in environmental solutions can not only reduce pollution, say the environmental charities, but also help to reduce poverty, cut fuel bills and create jobs...

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Written and edited in London and Geneva All Xperedon news articles are original and are written by the Xperedon news team. The team is headed in the UK by Alan Cole, an experienced award-winning journalist and copywriter. Alan has previously worked in-house for UK publishers, Pearson Media (Financial Times) and Northcliffe Newspapers, among others, and is an accredited member of the National Union of Journalists, UK.

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