Durban Conference Sets Pathway to More Inclusive 21st Century Climate Regime

11 December 2011: The UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, concluded with the adoption of a set of decisions covering a wide range of topics, notably the establishment of a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, a decision on long-term cooperative action under the Convention, the launch of a new process towards an agreed outcome with legal force applicable to all parties to the Convention, and the operationalization of the Green Climate Fund.

The Conference, which was held from 28 November - 11 December 2011, involved a series of events, including the 17th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 7).

In support of these two main bodies, four other bodies convened: the resumed 14th session of the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA); the resumed 16th session of the Ad hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP); and the 35th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA).

The Conference drew over 12,480 participants, including over 5400 government officials, 5800 representatives of UN bodies and agencies, intergovernmental organizations and civil society organizations, and more than 1200 members of the media.

The meetings resulted in the adoption of 19 COP decisions and 17 CMP decisions and the approval of a number of conclusions by the subsidiary bodies.

After the frustrations at the Copenhagen conference and the struggle to rescue the multilateral climate regime in Cancun, negotiators in Durban turned a corner and not only resuscitated the Kyoto Protocol but, in doing so, adopted a decision that will lead to negotiations on a more inclusive 21st century climate regime. There was a strong sense that elements of the Durban package, guided by a need to fulfill long overdue commitments that go back to the Bali Roadmap, restored sufficient momentum for a new negotiation process, one that will continue to witness a series of differentiated interests across and within the traditional lines of division between developed and developing countries. Many welcomed the adoption decisions including on the Green Climate Fund, and the Durban Platform, as well as the process to launch an agreement with legal force, while others continued to insist on the urgent need to significantly scale up the level of ambition to address the gap between the existing mitigation pledges and the needed emission reductions recommended by science. [IISDRS Coverage]