Q&A: Why Durban is different to climate change agreements of the past
World governments have committed themselves to reaching a legally binding deal. What are the chances of the process succeeding?
What happened in Durban?
For the first time, world governments committed themselves to write a comprehensive global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, covering developed and developing countries, to come into force in 2020.
Haven’t we had climate change agreements before?
Yes, going back to 1992, but never like this. The 1997 Kyoto protocol is the world’s only existing treaty stipulating cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, but the cuts only apply to developed countries and the US has never joined in. The current Kyoto targets expire next year, and only the EU among major developed countries has agreed to a continuation of them afterwards – Japan, Russia and Canada have all dropped out. Accords were also struck in 2009 and 2010 at Copenhagen and Cancun respectively, by which most countries and all of the biggest economies set out national targets on emissions curbs up to 2020. But these are voluntary, not legally binding.