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The Need for a New Global Agreement on Climate Change

President of the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban 2011Global agreement -- With the mounting scientific evidence concerning climate change and its impacts, there is a growing sense of urgency for stronger international action. The Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period expires after 2012. During the 2011 UN Climate Conference in Durban many countries agreed to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

But the Kyoto Protocol’s emission reductions cover only a portion of global greenhouse gas emissions. The emissions of highly industrialised countries are at an unsustainable level and the emissions of economies in transition (not least of the former Sowiet Union) have picked up again again after years of decline. And while the per capita emissions of developing countries are low compared to the industrialized countries, the rapid growth in emissions from from the large emerging economies need to be addressed under a new global agreement along with those of developed countries.

Developing countries vulnerable -- Because developing countries have lower incomes than industrialized countries, developing countries are more vulnerable to climate change impacts and have less capacity to adapt to these impacts than developed countries. Further, while the emissions of developing countries as a whole are rising, the per capita levels of emissions are far less than those of industrialized countries. And the absolute level of emissions for most developing countries is extremely low. The next global agreement must address the needs of developing countries while safeguarding the economic interests of industrialized countries.

power linesMajor emission reductions needed -- Greenhouse gases will increase anywhere between 25 to 90 per cent in 2030 from 1990 levels. Deep reductions in emissions are possible without undermining the global economy through rapid and significant advancement and deployment in climate-friendly technologies — renewable energy and emerging technologies such as carbon capture and storage. Such technologies will expand the options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and thus for international cooperation.

Looking towards the future -- A post-2012 climate change regime needs to be broadened to allow all aspects of a global solution to the problem to be addressed, including:

- A long-term global response in line with latest scientific findings and compatible with long-term investment planning needs of business.

- Deep emission cuts by industrialized countries, which must continue to take the lead in line with their historic responsibility and economic capabilities.

- Further engagement of developing countries, in particular those whose emissions already, or will in the near future, significantly contribute to atmospheric concentrations.

- Incentives for developing countries to limit their emissions and assistance to adapt to the impacts of climate change while safeguarding socioeconomic growth and poverty eradication, and for this;

- Flexibility through an enhanced carbon market to ensure the most cost-effective implementation and to mobilize the resources needed to provide the incentives to developing countries.

The Durban Platform addresses many of these issues.

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