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Sep 12, 2011

EU wants firm decisions on legally binding climate agreement

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While much of the focus for the Durban climate change conference was on getting the institutions under the Cancun Agreements up and running and deciding on the future of the Kyoto Protocol, the European Union (EU) is also pushing for an outline of the process towards a legally binding climate change agreement.

The Bali Roadmap of 2007, which was adopted as a two-year process en route to reaching a legally binding agreement in Copenhagen in 2009, did not yield results, and thus, the EU now wants decisions showing certainty that a legally binding agreement would be concluded at some stage.

French ambassador for climate change negotiations Serge Lepeltier said last week that a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol was important, but not enough. France, which forms part of the EU, was not expecting a legally binding agreement in Durban, but Lepeltier said that it wanted to see firm decisions on a process towards an overarching agreement.

“We need a decision for a process towards a legally binding agreement. An agenda, and a deadline,” he stated, adding that member states would need to move more quickly on this.

Lepeltier seemed upbeat that this could be achieved in Durban, particularly since negotiating blocs which had been pushing the issue aside, in favour of Kyoto Protocol clarity, now seemed open to discussing a framework towards a legally binding agreement.

Mali, part of the Africa grouping had previously not been willing to discuss a process towards a legally binding agreement until the issue of the Kyoto Protocol was finalised, now seemed more open to discussion on a legally binding agreement.

South Africa was also viewed as important in this discussion, as the country held sway within the Basic grouping (Brazil, South Africa, India and China), and if these countries agreed to outline a process towards a legally binding agreement, it was likely that other developed countries, such as the US, would consider doing the same.

While in Pretoria for an informal Ministerial meeting on Friday, Lepeltier noted that for Durban to be considered a success, it would require more than just implementation of previous agreements.

The so-called ‘pre-COP’ meetings, such as last week’s informal Ministerial meeting, and the formal meeting scheduled for Panama in October, were viewed as crucial for the negotiations.

The Durban meeting was the seventeenth conference of the parties, and would take place from November 28 to December 9.

Edited by: Mariaan Webb
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