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Grenada: Climate talks more urgent than ever

Published: 
Friday, December 9, 2011
Karl Hood

Durban, South Africa

Karl Hood, Grenada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, said the task facing the UN climate talks currently taking place here has never been more urgent as the world is witnessing emissions at their highest levels ever. Speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), Hood stressed that a system based on multilateral rules was essential for the survival of vulnerable countries. “I want us all to be clear on one thing. We in AOSIS have not come here to negotiate ourselves out of existence but this is what will happen if we give in to some of the proposals put forward in the last couple of days,” he said at the high-level session of COP 17. 

“We are extremely concerned about the developments under the Kyoto Protocol and the proposals that have been made to leave Durban without a final resolution on the second commitment period. We cannot accept this.” Japan, Canada and Russia have announced that they do not want to undertake a second period of commitment when the first period expires in 2012. Poorer nations have called for the Kyoto Protocol, which commits 37 industrial countries to limit carbon emissions, to be extended. However, rich nations want a broader pact to include all the big polluters, including India, China and Brazil. The United States has never ratified the treaty. 

The Climate Action Tracker warned in its latest update that delaying any decisions on future climate action until 2015 or 2020 will bring rapidly increasing risk in costs and threatens the likelihood of the world being able to keep global warming to below two degrees Celsius. According to the latest analysis from the Climate Action Tracker, a joint project of Climate Analytics, Ecofys and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the world is heading toward a global emissions pathway that will take warming to 3.5 degrees Celsius, and far from a cost-optimal pathway to keep warming below two degrees Celsius. 

With the current pledges taken under the Cancun Agreements, global emissions would be on a pathway where in 2020, the world would be emitting 55 gigatonnes of Carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent a year (GtCO2e/year), way above the levels consistent with a two degree Celsius pathway of below 44GtCO2e/year, according to the Climate Tracker. Drawing attention to the impact of climate change on his country, Belize Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega told the UN conference that coastlines were vanishing, lands were becoming arid while the coral reef, the largest in the western hemisphere was suffering from increasing bleaching events and ocean acidifications. 

He said a five-year second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, with a single, common and legally-binding base year of 1990, must be decided now to avoid any legal gaps. Vega, also Belize’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, also called for the Green Climate Fund that will channel US$100 billion a year in aid to developing nations to become operational in Durban.