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Landing on the Durban Platform: Rating the Outcome

Ned Helme, founder and president of CCAP, continues to explore the happenings during the influential negotiations of COP17 held recently in Durban, in this second post in a series of six Q&As.

Q: How would you rate the outcome at Durban compared to general expectations?

A: I think we made more progress in the big picture than we ever expected. This issue of whether developing countries would accept a negotiating process to achieve legally binding commitments for all countries has been very controversial.  I frankly didn’t expect it to be successful. And, developing countries agreeing to negotiate a legally binding agreement affecting all countries by 2015 without insisting on wording re-emphasizing “common but differentiated responsibilities” for developing countries is also quite surprising.  Now, international negotiations and text can change during the negotiating process, but it is important to note that all countries agreed to the Durban Platform and, in a sense, this is nothing they have agreed to before.

From the narrower detailed text perspective, Durban made progress. The COP decided to launch the Green Climate Fund in 2012, though many details have yet to be worked out. On the key issue of transparency of actions taken by developing countries, the Durban Platform established biennial reporting by all countries. It also affords flexibility to developing countries to monitor not only for GHG reductions but also for benefits that are more important to them, things like development and health benefits, which can help build increasing domestic support for their actions. Lots of work remains to be done, but the on-the-ground push for mitigation actions by developing countries benefited on balance from the Durban decisions.

Ned Helme is the founder and president of the Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP).

As a leading expert on climate and air policy, he advises Members of Congress, state and international governments, the European Commission and developing countries on these issues.

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