At 3am on Sunday 11 December, after 16 days of negotiations, the UN Summit on Climate Change in Durban ended with a commitment by all countries to accept binding emissions cuts by 2020. In addition, a climate fund will be immediately set up to enable poorer countries to mitigate the effects of climate change, carbon trading will be expanded and incentives will be put in place to prevent deforestation.
While welcoming the move towards a binding agreement, there was concern from development and environmental organisations that the proposed cuts to carbon emissions are not enough to prevent the global temperature rising by over two degrees centigrade, causing dangerous and irreversible climate change. There were also fears that the proposed Green Climate Fund might not become reality, as it is still unclear how it would be financed or administrated. As yet, no sources of funding have been found, despite rich countries pledging £64 billion a year by 2020 to help poorer countries to deal with the effects of climate change without increasing their carbon footprints.
Anna Rogers from the Methodist Relief and Development Fund said 'After stalled talks in Copenhagen and Cancun, we welcome the commitment made to a legally binding agreement in Durban. However, we are deeply concerned that countries are again delaying action until 2020, and urge all governments to act swiftly to reduce their country's carbon dioxide emissions. Likewise, regions affected by climate change don't need funding to deal with its effects in nine years time, they need it now. A tiny tax on financial transactions would be one viable way of financing this. Our overseas partners are already facing dangerous climate change - they simply cannot afford for us to delay reducing CO2 emissions or providing funding for climate mitigation until 2020.'
The 2012 UN Climate Change Conference, COP 18 will take place in Qatar from 26 November to 7 December 2012.