Durban outcome: No action until 2020 will be too little, too late

“Yesterday’s agreement was a victory for multilateralism and the climate process”, said GWEC Secretary General Steve Sawyer. “Let’s see if we can gather enough political will in the next few years to make it the victory for the climate that the public demands and our children deserve.”

The agreements in Durban provide for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol after 2012, and established a process to come up with a Protocol or another form of legal agreement by 2015, which would enter into force by 2020. But perhaps the most important part of the agreement is the ‘review’ of the science in the context of the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report which Parties agreed should guide the level of ambition of the new agreements.

“At some point, diplomacy and short term national interests must come face to face with the facts”, continued Sawyer. “Action which does not begin until after 2020 will be too little too late, and we will lock in 3°C or more of temperature rise, with disastrous economic, social and human consequences.”

Throughout the nearly fourteen days of negotiations, the EU, small island states, least developed countries and others fought tirelessly against the major emitters to come up with an agreement that they could live with. “We live to fight another day”, concluded Sawyer. “But the margin of error from here on out is very slim, and if we don’t speed up the process and raise our level of ambition, we will leave our children an extremely unpleasant legacy.”