Sunday, December 11, 2011

COP17 ends with 'historic deal'

Britain's environment secretary Chris Huhne MP has called the COP17 a success, saying that after last minute negotiations work was being made to reach a global overarching legal deal to cut emissions.

China & India have signed up to the roadmap along with the United States, but in essence nothing is legally binding. The agreement is merely a framework for the establishment of a fund to tackle environmental issues and to set up a treaty by 2020.

Asked whether he trusted China to commit itself and if the the US would play along, Huhne appeared to be non-committal. However Huhne told the BBC that he believed the current involvement by both the US, China and India was a "major step forward". But environmental groups have called the talks a failure and do not go far enough in tackling what they say is an imminent threat.

Some reports have labeled the deal as "historic", but the agreement if far removed from what is needed, environmentalists insist. The new deal means that for the first time every county in the world is committed to cutting carbon. However, the legal wording remains vague and the treaty will not come into force until 2020.

Andy Atkins from the Friends of the Earth said that there was a "massive gap between what's on the table and what needs to be done". Emissions need to be cut sharply before the planet faced "runaway climate change", Atkins claimed. Whether or not there was a legally binding agreement, there needed to be a greater move toward renewables and off of fossil fuels.

Charities also say that the so-called "Durban road map" is too weak to stop temperatures rising above the "danger point" of 2°C because it does not set tough targets for emissions cuts or a rapid enough timetable.

Major polluters will likely walk away smug that they have another eight years before they have to fully commit to cutting back on emissions. While some climate-change sceptics may be happy that the latest round of talks has been a relative failure, some are still concerned that governments will use the climate-change argument to increase taxes. The Daily Mail in suggested that taxpayers in Britain would be looking to payout £6 billion to a £64 billion fund aimed at tackling climate change. And with the world facing economic turmoil, this is a bill that will be hard to swallow [BBC / Guardian / Telegraph].

tvnewswatch, London, UK

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