IFMSA@COP17: Durban, the aftermath

IFMSA Friends and Climate Enthusiasts!

At 5:16am on Sunday the 11th of December 2011, the world finally came to agreement on a way forward for international action on Climate Change. Whether or not the results of the summit are the positive kick the world needed or not, remains to be seem.
There were four key outcomes of the ‘Durban Package’:
· The Green Climate Fund: Nations agreed on a management and trustee structure for international financial flows for climate change adaptation. The fund is intended to contain in excess of 100 billion USD by 2020, and is filling up fast with the UK already contributing well over its quota, with 3.6 Billion GBP!!! The fund is to be managed by a rotating mix of high and low income countries, under the stewardship of the World Bank’s Global Environmental Facility. It is expected to be operational and directing financial resource within the next 12 months.

· The Durban Platform for Enhanced Action: With great compromise and tough negotiations, the world was able to agree to the need for a new negotiation track to be commenced in 2012 known as the AWG-DPEA. There are a number of key differences about this track which are different from the previous two, which will allow it to break political deadlock which has doomed the post-COP15 discussions. Firstly, the AWG-DPEA will depart from the ‘High income countries lead’ principle, require India, Brazil and China to take part in the discussions as primary emitters, with serious mitigation responsibilities. Second, the world is finally agreed that whatever outcome is decided on, must have nationally enforceable legal outcomes/instruments/protocols. The AWG-DPEA is set to be designed by 2015, and implemented no later than 2020.

· Long Term Cooperative Action: In response to the above AWG-DPEA, the current negotiation track known as the AWG-LCA is set to expire and dissolve at COP18 in favour of the new framework.

· The Kyoto Protocol: Our beloved Kyoto Protocol (the only framework in existence which commits high income countries to actual emissions reductions) was saved… kind of. It’s complicated, but one of three options could have emerged from Durban. 1) the Kyoto Protocol could have been strengthened in to KP-2, with much stronger global commitments, 2) the Kyoto Protocol could be kept much as is, leaving it toothless in regards to mitigation action, but valuable as a framework for international carbon markets, 3) the entire Kyoto Protocol could have dissolved, backtracking on a decade of work! The best the world could muster was option 2), with the KP valiantly saved by the desperate efforts of the European Union, partnering with the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS). So, for the moment, the KP is kept alive, but is hanging on a very thin thread, with countries such as Canada, Japan and Russia keen to see it axed once and for all.

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So what do we think about all this? Well, whilst it breaks political deadlock, taking action by 2020 is simply too slow for an earth which is being pushed beyond its tipping point. Best available evidence from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommends a peak in global emissions by 2017 at the very latest to avoid the catastrophic effects of runaway climate change – current political negotiations put us on track to miss this deadline! On the other hand, it breaks a complicated political deadlock between the US, China, the EU and India in a way that allows the world to move forward together.
Regardless of your perspective, you can count on us to be present at all of the intersessionals, and COP18 in Doha, to make sure that the world reaches a fair, ambitious and legally binding treaty on climate change that safeguards the international right to Health for All.

Nick and the IFMSA COP17 Team

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