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Durban starts move to new climate treaty

The United Nations climate talks in Durban  have produced a ‘roadmap’ for climate change

The roadmap, known as the Durban platform, is seen as the first step towards a new global climate change treaty to succeed the Kyoto protocol on climate change.

However, it has not yet reached the stage of setting any new targets for emissions cuts or global temperature reduction.

Significantly, the commitment to work towards a new treaty has been signed by both developed and developing nations and has legal weight if countries attempt to pull out of it.

In the run-up to the decision, representatives from China and India had complained that they should not have such stiff targets as those in Europe and North America, since although their total emissions were higher, the emissions per capita were lower.

Negotiators are starting work on the terms, which need to be agreed by 2015 and come into force by 2020.

United Nations climate change chief Christiana Figueres said: “I salute the countries who made this agreement. They have all laid aside some cherished objectives of their own to meet a common purpose – a long-term solution to climate change.”

The roadmap decision has led to attention turning again to a rapid phase-down of HFCs among  some campaigners, which they see as a fast fix to reducing carbon emissions.

Environmental Investigations Agency campaigner Natasha Hurley said: “There is simply no other comparable near-term strategy for greenhouse gas mitigation. Failure to seize this opportunity now would be an indefensible dereliction of duty. “

The European Commission  has just completed its public consultation over the future of the F-Gas Regulation, which could include a phase-down of HFCs. Andrea Voigt, director general of cooling and heating body Epee, said legislation could not be immediate.

She said: “The EC legislative proposal is not likely until after the summer break, so we are unlikely to get actual legislation until 2014. 

“The EC believes that stabilising the current emissions are not enough, but Epee believes the targets can be realised without bans or GWP targets – energy efficiency mustn’t be jeopardised.”

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