Durban climate talks crack open door to new agreement

December 11, 2011


Jennifer Andreassen, +1-202-288-4867,

(DURBAN, South Africa – Dec. 11, 2011) The UN climate conference this morning laid the groundwork for moving forward on a global climate change agreement.

“With this morning’s agreement the world’s climate polluters take the first small but essential steps toward creating a new global agreement to curb climate change,” said Jennifer Haverkamp, director of the international climate program for Environmental Defense Fund.

“For the first time all major emitting nations, including China and India, have agreed on the need to move forward – and to do so together.”  

Haverkamp added, however, “The challenge is that we begin the talks from the lowest common denominator of every party’s aspirations. For this effort to be successful, countries need to be ambitious in their commitments and to refuse to use these negotiations as just another stalling tool.”

Countries also agreed to start building the infrastructure for a Green Climate Fund to support the poorest nations most vulnerable to climate change, which had been one of the highest priorities for this conference.

“Launching the Green Climate Fund is a major success story of this conference,” said Haverkamp.  “But now comes the hard part—finding the public and private money to finance it.”

In a major achievement, countries included carbon markets as a possible funding source for activities to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) activities.

This decision sends a clear policy signal that carbon markets can be used to achieve the large-scale, sustainable funding needed to keep carbon-rich tropical forests standing.  Another highlight in the outcome was a technical agreement that will provide a framework and necessary guidelines in establishing reference levels – benchmarks for measuring progress – for REDD+ policies.  

“An unfortunate development in the Durban talks was the finalization of rules for measuring emissions from forests in developed countries that may allow countries to increase their forest emissions without penalty by almost half a billion tons of emissions a year,” said Haverkamp.  “Some countries will be rewarded even if they increase emissions from forests, while others will receive massive windfalls for doing nothing.”