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Durban Parties Agree Kyoto Extension

Negotiators at U.N. climate talks in Durban yesterday agreed a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, to run from 2013 through 2017, pulling negotiations back from the brink days after the conference was supposed to have ended.

The 190-odd countries also bound themselves to agree, in 2015, a deal to force them to cut emissions by 2020, Reuters reports.

The first phase of the Kyoto protocol is due to finish at the end of 2012, and the possible lack of follow-on phase had raised questions about the future of trade in U.N.-backed carbon credits.

As of Friday at 4:30pm in Durban, the U.S., China and India were blocking an EU-designed “road map” plotting the successor to the Kyoto agreement.By 3am Sunday morning, the EU, China and India were still in heated dispute over the wording of a new treaty, the Guardian reported.

The conference chair, South African foreign minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (pictured), then brought China, India, the US, Britain, France, Sweden, Gambia, Brazil and Poland together for a “huddle” to get past their disagreements. Brazilian negotiator Luis Figueres suggested legal language more amenable to all parties, and within two hours the talks were over.

But organizations including Oxfam and Greenpeace said that the planned carbon reductions were not deep enough. Friends of the Earth International chair Nnimmo Bassey called the 2020 timescale “a crime of global proportions” that keeps the planet on track for a 4C temperature rise.

And Richard Gledhill, a partner in sustainability and climate change at PricewaterhouseCoopers, told the Guardian,?While we now have a road map and an ambitious timetable, the precise destination remains unclear.”

Among the outcomes, countries:

  • Ironed out some details of a Green Climate Fund to channel up to $100 billion a year by 2020 to poorer countries
  • Agreed to hammer out new market mechanisms for Kyoto’s successor treaty
  • Identified options for closing the gap between the emissions reduction pledges that countries have made for 2020, and cuts necessary to keep the rise in global temperatures below 2 degrees C
  • Defeated a proposal to charge the shipping sector for their carbon emissions
  • Passed new rules for how the Clean Development Mechanism will apply to carbon sequestration projects, requiring that five percent of the credits for such project only be awarded once it is proven that no carbon dioxide has leaked 20 years after the end of the crediting period
  • Agreed that private funds and market-based mechanisms will be considered for the program on cutting carbon emissions from deforestation, though it may take several years until the program is fully realized
  • Did not make a decision on whether to continue awarding carbon credits under the Joint Implementation mechanism after 2012.

The text of the agreements is available here: unfccc.int/2860.php

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