The key issue on everyone’s mind: the fate of the Kyoto Protocol. Will Parties emerge with some sort of a concrete agreement or will Durban be regarded as more politicking with little meaningful action? With only a few short hours left, negotiators have been working into the early hours desperately attempting to bridge the divisions amongst key players.
South African officials have stated that the death of the Kyoto Protocol will not occur on African soil, but the question remains is there the political will to prevent that from occurring? Connie Hedegaard, EU commissioner, just held a press conference indicating there has been movement on the “EU Roadmap”, but unless those key parties shift their position (China, India, US), we will not see a deal in Durban. While Brazil and South Africa have warmed to the idea of legally binding agreements in 2020, it remains unclear as to whether the other half of the BASIC countries (China and India) will join. Additionally, if consensus is reached in the BASIC block, will that be enough to rope in the US?
Since its failure to sign onto the Kyoto Protocol, the US has maintained the position that its participation in a legally binding agreement is contingent on the participation of all countries. US officials have stated that although emissions reductions should be based on the concept of Common But Differentiated Responsibility (the idea that we all have a collective challenge, yet different responsibilities and capacities to address it), it’s imperative to gain a commitment from developing countries particularly those that will constitute the largest share of GHG emissions. However, if all parties were to agree to some form of legally binding agreement, there’s still one more complicating factor… the US Congress. For years we’ve been asking for a global agreement, but if that seemingly impossible task is actually accomplished – do we have the political capital to ratify a treaty back home?
In keeping with the mantra of the conference and inspiration of our committed advocates, I too will quote the impassioned Nelson Mandela in saying “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” With only one day left, what’s to come remains very much in the hands our esteemed leadership. Stay tuned for more details….