News / Africa

Durban Climate Conference Drags On With Few Signs of Progress

Delegates continue debating into the night during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP17) in Durban, South Africa, December 9, 2011.
Delegates continue debating into the night during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP17) in Durban, South Africa, December 9, 2011.

Multimedia

Audio

The United Nations climate conference in Durban, South Africa has gone into overtime, as delegates met Saturday to try to reach agreement on several deals to fight climate change.  Observers still question if any of the proposals on the table are strong enough to have a real impact.

Negotiators representing nearly 200 nations worked through the night and well into the day Saturday, with hopes of leaving Durban with solid deals in place.

Among the key issues being discussed is whether to adopt a second commitment period of at least five years to the Kyoto Protocol - a pact, enacted in 2007 that legally binds governments to cut emissions.

The current proposal being considered would extend the Kyoto Protocol for another term, if, in exchange, the United States, China and other big countries that are not a part of it, agree to negotiate a future replacement deal to cut emissions after 2020.

But even if a deal is reached here in Durban, some observers say the terms are still insufficient to combat climate change.

"It's all well and good to talk about long-term treaties post 2020, and that's essential and we support that and want to get a decision here launching a process to do that," said Alden Meyer, who is from the Union of Concerned Scientists. "But we also need a near term process to raise the level of ambition collectively, both developed and developing countries, to try to substantially raise efforts to close what's called the gigaton gap, which is the gap between the emissions reductions we have on the table and those that have to be made to stay under two degrees."

Two degrees centigrade is the amount by which scientists say the Earth can warm before causing irreversible damage to life systems.

Another big issue is setting up the Green Climate Fund, which is supposed to provide financing for environmental projects in developing countries. Countries have had a hard time agreeing on what sources of funding will be used for the fund, and on other technical aspects.

Harjeet Singh of ActionAid says it looks increasingly unlikely there will be a complete fund before the next climate conference in Qatar.

"Things are not looking very positive on the Green Climate Fund we see that the operationalization that we were expecting to definitely have happen in Durban, it's not really happening," said Singh.  "It has been moved to next year so between now and Qatar it may happen sometime, which is quite depressing."

Singh said the United States, which has been asking that private firms have more access to the fund, is largely responsible for the delay.

Time is running out for a major deal to combat climate change, and many environmental ministers involved in the talks have already started heading home.

Some of the employees at the conference center have been asked to be available to work again on Sunday, suggesting negotiations may have a long way to go.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More