Durban’s unseasonal weather, coupled with Sunday’s thunderstorm that claimed the lives of eight people, cast an ominous shadow over delegates at the climate change talks in Durban.
Several delegates used the unusual weather dogging KwaZulu-Natal as proof that weather patterns are changing.
“It is the type of unseasonal weather we are seeing all over the world as methane gas in the atmosphere continues to rise,” said Christiana Figueres, the UN’s top climate change official.
The ICC, where COP17 is being held, suffered roof damage and the basement car park wasflooded. Staff had cleaned up
by the time delegates began arriving yesterday.
Figueres said the Durban talks should build on the decisions made at last year’s conference in Cancun, Mexico.
One of the bones of contention at the climate talks is the $100 billion (R87.4bn) green climate fund that was pledged by developed countries to assist developing countries with climate change.
Figueres said developed countries needed to decide how to ramp up funding for the green climate change, which they promised to provide to developing countries by 2020.
“And let us not forget, they also need to determine if the agreed goal of keeping global temperature increases on track, and if it is adequate, and how and when to consider a 1.5°C maximum increase.
“The second decisive step is to define the way forward in reducing the global emission gas reductions.”
Many delegates fear that if a solution is not found to extending the agreements of the Kyoto Protocol, Durban will go down in history as the place where the “Kyoto Protocol was killed on African soil”.
Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maita Nkoana-Mashabane, the president of COP17, said the conference was the ideal place for countries to strengthen the trust from the Cancun conference, which she described as “fragile”.
Meanwhile, Poland’s chief climate change negotiator, Tomasz Chruszczo, said extreme weather events were causing severe damage and there was no time to waste.
“If we don’t take urgent action, in five or six years it might be too late,” he said.
Chruszczow and the head of the European Environment Commission, Artur Runge-Metzger, spoke yesterday about the EU’s political position on global warming.
Although the EU has supported the Kyoto Protocol since its inception in 1997, the organisation believes that it is not sufficient for all the needs of today.
Durban will have to set long-term goals and take forward discussions on when global emissions will peak and, according to Runge-Metzger, this peak will be within the next 10 years.
“Kyoto alone cannot save the planet,” he said.