The Durban Platform, signed after 60 gruelling hours of non-stop negotiations at COP 17 in Durban, represents a breakthrough for multi-lateral action against climate change. The Platform commits all countries to undertake action to mitigate climate change, with a new legal instrument to be put in place by 2015, to come into legal force by 2020. In the meantime, the European Union committed itself to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, to follow immediately upon the end of the first commitment period, December 2012. These are significant achievements for the multilateral approach to tackling climate change.
It is fitting that the EU took the lead in negotiating the deal that yielded the Durban Platform. The EU is the only region that has taken on real costs to mitigate GHG emissions, and European countries have shown greatest commitment to supporting developing countries to adapt to climate change. The EU, unlike countries like Canada and the US, had real legitimacy in taking this leadership role. The lead negotiator for the EU, Connie Hedegaard of Denmark, had a clear and direct manner in the negotiations, as well as a high personal stake in the success of the negotiation process. Ms. Hedegaard chaired COP15 in Copenhagen, where she was seen to have failed to broker an agreement. President Obama eventually sidelined her when he brokered the so-called Copenhagen Concensus, which simply asked countries to specify non-binding emission reduction targets.
After the near-fiasco of Copenhagen, it seemed to many, including me, that the multi-lateral approach to tackling climate change was dieing. Lets hope that countries heed the urgent call to action that the Durban Platform calls for.
Check out this website to see a copy of the Durban Platform.
The Guardian has very good coverage of the deal-making processes that unfolded in Durban: