There would be no legally binding agreement from the seventeenth Conference of the Parties, or COP 17, which kicks off in Durban later this month, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) South Africa climate change team leader Tasneem Essop said on Tuesday.
The WWF said the current global economic realities, as well as the international political landscape were not aligned with the science of climate change, which indicated that urgent action was required. That said, Essop argued that the economic crisis should not be used as an “excuse”, as the very transition to a low-carbon economy offered part of the solution to the crisis.
It was “disappointing” that countries such as Russia, Japan and Canada had already indicated their intention not to align themselves with a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. While the US, she said, was coming to South Africa “empty-handed”.
“The US has received sympathy for the domestic challenges in the country, but has squandered that sympathy and is not willing to discuss long-term financing.”
The WWF proposed that COP 17 be used to set the foundation to rebuild towards a climate change agreement and create momentum for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol between 2012 and 2017. It also argued that this should eventually lead to a third commitment period and a legally binding agreement in 2018.
What was possible at COP 17, Essop said, was a balanced package inclusive of a political agreement on the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol and a mandate for a legal agreement under the Convention track.
Other key priority issues for the WWF include an agreement on establishing an adaptation committee, agreement on a low-carbon development strategies, closing the accounting loopholes and an overall aim for the reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, commonly referred to as REDD.
Further, the WWF called for an agreement on the Green Climate Fund (GCF). John Smith, head of climate change at the British High Commission in South Africa, told Engineering News Online that key to any COP 17 success was to interrogate sources of finance for the GCF.
Smith said funding from the developed world could not be the only guarantee, adding that there was a critical need for public and private financing.