The long road ahead after Durban

Martin Stott
December 12th, 2011

Buried amongst the acres of coverage of the financial crisis and whether or not the UK is in the EU any more, it’s hard to tell exactly what the outcome of the Durban Climate Change Summit really is. That is the problem. Hardly anyone cares any more – or so you would be led to believe. Green house gas emissions are still shooting up despite this global economic crisis. According to the World Bank’s 2010 World Development Report, if all the coal-fired plants scheduled to be built worldwide in the next 25 years come into operation, their lifetime CO2 emissions will equal those of all coal burning since the start of the Industrial Revolution. It hardly bears thinking about.

Flooding in Bangladesh

Durban seems to have set us off on a journey towards a legally binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas in a decade’s time, but to get everybody even to start seems to have involved accepting delay and avoiding the key decisions about who should make cuts and when. This is in a context where even the International Energy Agency, reckons that we need to have got our investment in low carbon energy infrastructure sorted by 2017 at the latest to have any prospect of hitting the 2°C limit on global temperature rises.

The Durban agreement doesn’t look to me as if it has done anything to help us achieve that. Once again we have ducked the issues and planet and people will pay for it.

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