Durban climate blog - Days 12-14

AFTER a record-breaking, marathon session involving all-night negotiations for three nights on the trot, a deal was finally struck at the UN climate talks here in Durban shortly after 5am on Sunday morning.

To the surprise and relief of the dwindling number of delegates, observers and media, the world’s governments salvaged a path forward for international negotiations on climate change.

After several days of simmering tension between nations, it took a ten minute “huddle” involving key countries on the floor of the main conference area to reach a deal agreeing to a ‘road map’ which commits countries to negotiating a protocol, another legal instrument or an “agreed outcome with legal force”.

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Countries also finally agreed to the establishment of the Green Climate Fund to secure billions of pounds to poor countries to help them cope with impacts of global warming - sadly no sources of money were identified. As the greatest impacts of climate change will be borne by the most vulnerable, who have done least to cause the problem, it is a matter of urgency that funds are found.

But, we must be under no illusion - the outcome of Durban leaves us with the prospect of being legally bound to a world of 4C warming. This would be catastrophic for people and the natural world.

Governments have spent crucial days focused on a handful of specific words in the negotiating text, but have paid little heed to repeated warnings from the scientific community that much stronger and more urgent action is needed to cut emissions.

Many countries came in good faith to seal a deal, but have been stymied by a handful of entrenched governments who have consistently resisted raising the level of ambition on climate change.

However, the fight will not stop here. One crumb of comfort in Durban has been the emergence of a large coalition of high ambition countries, led by the most vulnerable nations and small island states, including many in Africa.

It’s good that the UK and EU have aligned themselves with this coalition, but Europe must urgently convince the world that it is serious by increasing the ambition of its painfully weak emissions target for 2020 to at least 30% below 1990 levels. By doing so, the EU would actually benefit its own economy - saving billions on imported fossil fuels and creating the springboard for green growth and new green jobs.

Finally, Scotland’s world-leading climate legislation went down well amongst delegates we spoke with here in Durban. We sincerely hope our politicians appreciate the global significance of ensuring Scotland’s targets are met.

• Lang Banks (WWF Scotland) and Lexi Barnett (SCIAF) were representing Stop Climate Chaos Scotland while in Durban.

• It’s WWF’s 50th anniversary in 2011. We’d love you to help us celebrate - so we’ve come up with more ways than ever for you to get involved.

Find out how to join in at

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