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PIANGO Newsletter # 2 - December 2011

The Outcomes of Durban COP17: Turning Words into Action

Since the COP17 climate talks ended in early December in Durban, South Africa, many people have been asking the same question - Was it a success? Analysts from government, media and NGOs seem to be taking one of two stances: “It was a good step forward” (for example, the official UNFCCC Press Release: “Durban Conference Delivers Breakthrough in International Community’s Response to Climate Change”) or “It failed to deliver what is needed” (as in the WWF Press Release: “Governments Fail on Ambition, Courage at UN Climate Change Talks.”)

The Women’s Environment Development Organisation (WEDO) has been linking gender and climate change issues and assessing the real effect of this on the COP17 outcome. Agnes Otzelberger of CARE International said “Packaged in the term ‘gender sensitive’ is the ambition for global responses to climate change to include, benefit and reflect the needs and priorities of poor men and women worldwide – in other words, to ensure these responses do not perpetuate or widen gender inequalities by missing out on large parts of the people who are part of the solution.”

WEDO says: “In Durban, there was some success in that respect: references to women and gender were secured across several areas. In addition, achieving references to gender in
both the Green Climate Fund and the Climate Technology Centre and Network also represent significant progress, as these were often areas where gender considerations and social considerations – had been largely ignored.” But can we deem “The Durban Package” a success? As the problems of climate change become ever more urgent, the UNFCCC process, which itself is dependent on the political will of countries to address these issues, has resulted in another delay to real solutions.

In the early morning of December 11th, two days after the talks were scheduled to conclude, countries agreed upon a process from 2012 to 2015 to “develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the UNFCCC applicable to all Parties”, which would come into effect after 2020.

The legally binding agreement, which many had hoped to achieve in 2009 at COP15, has now
been pushed to 2015. Climate Action Tracker estimates that the current level of ambition
towards cutting emissions will result in a 3.5°C increase in global mean temperatures by
2100 and essentially guarantee a temperature increase of 2°C. This will result in irreversible
ecosystem changes affecting the lives of billions of individuals. What has yet to be seen are true and ambitious efforts to develop an agreement that will save the lives of the millions of women and men who are already suffering the impacts of climate change and the generations to come who will suffer even more. We have now seen two COPs after Copenhagen “successfully” save the process, but we’re running out of time to save the lives of billions of people and to ensure our future. [Adapted from Climate Change, News, WEDO at COP17].

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Other News from the December 2011 Newsletter...