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News

Dec 7, 2011

Pressure mounts for the world leaders 
to deliver in Durban

World leaders are naïve if they believe
blanket exploitation of the earth’s 
resources can continue

Four days to save the world, says ACT Alliance

Global network demands governments close three crucial gaps in UN climate talks immediately

A week has already passed in one of the world’s biggest talking-shops. Yet the United Nations climate negotiations in Durban have yet to reach decisions on key issues affecting millions of the world’s poorest people.  The governments holding up the process need to become far more ambitious in the five remaining days, says one of the world’s largest faith-based development networks, ACT Alliance. Ministers with power and accountability to their people must now achieve what their technocrats didn’t last week.

The first week of talks have revealed a triple gap. A huge gap exists between what emission cuts countries have committed to so far and what is required. Another differential is the existing commitments to finance and the amount actually needed, as well as a lack of clarity on where the money will come from. Thirdly, the world faces a real danger there will be a no legal construct after the existing Kyoto Protocol commitment period – the world’s only legally binding climate agreement - ends in 2012.

The triple gap will become a gaping hole unless countries reach decisions this week.  The cost of mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change are growing, greenhouse gas emissions are growing and time is running out for leaders to commit to a new agreement before the current Kyoto protocol expires.

“This is a question of justice,” says ACT General Secretary John Nduna. “The poorest people in the world suffer most from the effects of climate change. They are the least to blame for causing it and do not have the means to cope with it. Many are forced to live on land that has become barren, on flood plains or in drought-stricken areas – and have no chance of moving.” The Climate Vulnerability Forum says 350,000 people die of climate change every year. That figure will increase to 1 million a year by 2050 unless delegates reach firm agreements now.

“Governments have had plenty of time to drag their feet and there is no excuse for further delay. People are dying, right now. All countries must dramatically raise their game and reach clear and progressive decisions this week. History has shown again and again how much can be achieved in five days. Now is their chance to show their moral leadership on behalf of millions of the world’s poorest people,” Nduna said.

ACT Alliance wants COP17 to deliver four clear results. It must:

- put into effect the Green Climate Fund – the financial structure agreed in Cancun last year but which remains an empty shell lacking money and staff. It requires rapid work this week to set it up and finance a secretariat that can begin to capitalise it.

- agree on a roadmap clarifying the move from fast-start climate finance, which ends next year, and the long-term finance that will be needed up to 2020. Any roadmap must include safeguards relating to different sources of funding, and realistic milestones.

- ensure the Kyoto Protocol does not die and that all countries agree a fair, ambitious and legally binding agreement as soon as possible.

- recognise and progress work in adaptation, an issue of huge importance to the most vulnerable people and must be addressed as an issue of equal importance to mitigation.

Rosalia Soley, of ACT’s forum in El Salvador, in the heart of the region recently hit by floods triggered by climate change, says Durban cannot be allowed to fail. “Now is the time for the community of states to show their solidarity with the poorest people in the world, who suffer most of the impacts of climate change. There are five days to act: the world’s most powerful must now deliver.”


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