The much anticipated UN Climate Change Conference started on Monday in Durban, South Africa. Delegates from more than 194 countries are here to start the final round of this year’s negotiations, with the task to address a range of issues before the conference ends on Dec 9. The welcoming ceremony was attended by South African President Jacob Zuma and Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Patricia Espinosa Castellano, among other dignitaries.
While addressing the welcoming ceremony, UN climate chief Christina Figueres warned the delegates that the talks “urgently needed to shore up public confidence that something was being done”. After the failure of talks at Copenhagen in 2009, many had developed doubts about the ability of the UN forum to come up with any concrete solutions to climate change. However, the progress made at Cancun last year renewed confidence.
Expectations are so far low about the chances of any major breakthroughs, but experts believe that Durban can be a stepping stone in the right direction. “At Durban, we must complete the work that we started back in Cancun”, said Farrukh Iqbal Khan, lead negotiator of the delegation.
The major agenda at Durban is the fate of the Kyoto Protocol, the only legal instrument in place to limit global greenhouse gas emissions, whose first commitment period is about to expire in 2012.
Negotiators are also expected to finalize the structure and working of the “Green Climate Fund” to mobilize $100bn a year beginning in 2020 for vulnerable countries to deal with the impact of climate change.
Pakistan is expected to play an important role in these negotiations, especially relating to finance issues. According to Farrukh Iqbal, the green climate fund, water, and adaptation are the urgent issues delegates are focusing on here in Durban.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 29th, 2011.