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Durban disappointment - the fight goes on

By Laura Trevelyan | 11 December 2011

The UN climate talks went into overtime with countries negotiating late into Saturday night, but sadly the outcome is very disappointing.

And as my colleague, Mohamed Adow puts it, 'ordinary people will pay the price.'

The sense of frustration among activists and civil society at the talks is only eclipsed by the determination not to let go our shared vision of climate justice. This is not over.

The talks have delayed action to cut emissions until 2020 – this is just too late for people and planet.

As our talks expert Mohamed says, 'action against climate change in 2020 will come a decade too late for poor people on the frontline - they urgently need it now.

Flooding in Kenya'Their lives are already ravaged by floods, droughts, failed rains, deadly storms, hunger and disease and we know that these disasters will get worse and more frequent as climate change bites.

'It is a disastrous, profoundly distressing outcome.'

The outcome maintains the Kyoto protocol - the only legally binding agreement on emissions cuts - but in name only. The idea that the richest must cut their emissions most as they have contributed to climate change for the longest time, has disappeared. This rips the heart from Kyoto.

The green climate fund - money from the richest countries to help the poorest adapt to a changing climate and to develop in a low carbon way - has progressed with governments agreeing that the fund will soon have staff and an office.

But the fund remains empty and so countries must keep working to provide the $100 billion a year which was already agreed must be available by 2020.

Mohamed continues: 'In these two tortuous weeks of negotiations, many of the poor, relatively powerless states - the Africa Group, AOSIS and the Least Developed Countries - have showed leadership and flexibility in the seach for a solution.

'But they have been blocked by the governments of some traditional polluters - America, Canada, Russia, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, which seem to want to forget their historical responsibility for climate change and to retain their power.

'These governments are protecting their own political interests and the financial interests of big corporate polluters. But ordinary people will pay the price - in money, suffering and lives.

'We will not see the full consequences of this appaling outcome until next year, when governments will have to take many of the decisions they have dodged here in South Africa.'

Although Durban didn't deliver we will continue to call for climate justice.

As Nelson Mandela said, it always seems impossible until it's done. It wasn't done at Durban but the fight continues.

Listen to our podcast

Podcast What does the Durban outcome really mean and what are the implications for the countries most at risk from climate change? Christian Aid's senior adviser on climate change, Mohamed Adow, explains. Listen to this podcast here 


 About the author

Laura Trevelyan

Laura Trevelyan is our climate justice campaign manager

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