Possible outcomes from Durban

by Samuli Sinisalo

After one week of negotiations, what are some of the possible outcomes we can expect from Durban?

The negotiations run on the two tracks: Kyoto Protocol and the Long term Cooperative Action.

From the Kyoto track, there are at least four possible outcomes: 1) No second commitment period is signed and Kyoto Protocol is buried and forgotten 2) Negotiations for second commitment period are extended by another year 3) The Kyoto Protocol is continued selectively with a political declaration 4) The Kyoto Protocol gets a second commitment period

From the Long Term Cooperative Action track I can think of at least five possible outcomes: 1) No agreement – the Bali Action Plan is buried and forgotten 2) The Bali Action Plan is concluded with a political declaration of emission reductions 3) The Bali Action Plan is not concluded, but extended for another year 4) The Bali Action Plan is rewritten into a new Durban negotiation mandate 5) The Bali Action plan is concluded by signing a new and ambitious legally binding instrument

The options above are listed in order apparent success. Number ones are the clear failures, which are hard to be spinned into successes by anyone.

Number two on both lists are the political declarations. This would be simply repeating the failure of Copenhagen. The political approach of pledge and review has been out there for two years now, and it can be seen that it is not the solution to the mitigation of climate change, nor to the adaptation. Especially under Kyoto Protocol it would be better to continue negotiations than to lock into low level of ambition and compromise the legally binding status of the Protocol.

Option 3 on KP track and options 3 and 4 on the LCA track all result in the continuation of negotiations. As I said, for KP it’s better to continue negotiating that to settle for a bad outcome. Under LCA, the negotiation mandate from Bali has already been extended twice. As long as real progress is made, extending it for another year might not be a bad idea. But renegotiating the negotiation mandate, turning the ambitious, comprehensive and equitable Bali Action Plan into a watered down Durban Mandate is not a good idea. The planet and the developing world only have things to lose if the Bali Action Plan is redefined.

The optimum outcome, the only real and unquestionable success from Durban would be the signing of the second commitment period under KP, and the non-KP Annex 1 Parties committing to comparable cuts under the LCA.

Whatever the combination of these two negotiating tracks is, we will see in about a week. The media, all over the world, is likely to call it a success. With this breakdown of the negotiations, you can analyze yourself what kind of success it really was. Unfortunately the negotiations are likely to go for the lowest common denominator and result in the least ambitious combination possible that can be spinned as success in the eyes of media and public. For the time being, Durban Disaster seems to be the most likely outcome from COP17.

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