Durban climate talks significant but too weak to prevent global warming threat says Friends of the Earth

December 11th, 2011 by Friends of the Earth

Friends of the Earth warns that the outcomes of the Durban climate talks are significant but too weak to prevent dangerous global warming.

The current plans fall far short of the action scientists tell us is needed to slash emissions to prevent a five degree warming in global temperatures. This will leave millions at threat from increasingly frequent extreme weather events, like flooding and drought, and hit the world’s poorest people hardest.

Delaying action to tackle climate change until after 2020 will also fail to drive forward the low-carbon growth needed to wean countries off dirty and expensive fossil fuels, slash fuel bills and create jobs.

Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said “the UN climate change process is still alive – but this empty shell of a plan leaves humanity hurtling towards catastrophic climate change.

“Humanity must agree ambitious targets to slash its greenhouse gas emissions.”

“Millions of the poorest people around the globe are already facing the impacts of climate change – rich countries must take the lead in tackling it.”

“Decisive action to tackle climate change would slash fuel bills, create much-needed jobs, and help people in poorer countries gain access to clean energy.”

On a positive note, Friends of the Earth is pleased that some progress has been made on a Green Climate Fund, in that a mechanism is now in place to help developing countries adapt to climate change and grow cleanly. But it is currently an empty shell – akin to setting up a bank account with no money in it. Measures are needed to ensure money is channelled from rich governments via the UN and spent in a fair and transparent way.”

Friends of the Earth welcomes the continuation of emissions targets for rich countries in a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

At the moment it is the only international legal-binding framework for tackling climate change, and contains some important principles that should be incorporated into future mechanisms.

However, the level of ambition currently offered by rich countries under the Kyoto Protocol falls short of the emissions cuts scientists tell us are needed.

Rich countries must take the lead on cutting emissions. The charity is calling on the EU to increase its 2020 target to 40 per cent (based on 1990 levels), and for other rich nations to make ambitious commitments under the Kyoto Protocol immediately.

Friends of the Earth is pleased that the Long Term Cooperative Action negotiating track, started in Bali, continues to address the transfer of funds and technology to poorer countries tackling climate change.

But there is now a risk that politicians in industrialised countries will divert their attention towards the separate negotiating mandate for a new global agreement, to be agreed by 2015, causing resentment among developing nations and making overall progress harder to achieve.

The negotiating mandate for a new global legally-binding agreement should – ideally – stop rich countries shirking their responsibilities to tackle climate change.

But even if all countries are on board by 2015, emissions cuts won’t begin until 2020.

Climate scientists tell us bold global greenhouse gas emissions cuts are needed urgently to avoid catastrophic five degree warming.

Friends of the Earth says this delay is a fundamental flaw of the agreements reached in Durban.

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