Civil society lanyards proudly touting this quote by Nelson Mandela was a good choice by CAN and the perfect fit for Durban. Its timeliness resonates with many a delegate at the climate negotiations here at COP17. Indeed the promise of optimism and hope it gives must surely permeate the negotiations and secure for our planet what Mandela proved is possible despite the trials and tribulations on the path to achievement. Even though we despair at the slow pace of the negotiations, we will continue to persevere in the spirit of this silent reminder until the seemingly impossible is accomplished.
This week, more than 25,000 delegates from over 190 countries are gathered here in the beautiful city of Durban, South Africa to progress talks on finalizing the climate deal and to take us closer to a fair, ambitious, and binding global deal. With the letdown of COP15 in Copenhagen, no one expected Cancun to score a redeeming package to ensure continuity in the process. But we know that Cancun was just the next step of a process, which needs to be finalized by this meeting. Against this backdrop, Durban will be dominated by three major issues: the Kyoto commitments, financial matters, and the legal mandate for ongoing discussions. More than ever, we need a lot of optimism to move ahead and to make good progress.
Now, it is the time to take a bold step on the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol that was adopted in 1997 with the aim of stabilizing green house gas emission in the atmosphere and holding developed countries accountable with binding targets. The first commitment period (2009 – 2012) ends this year, therefore, a decision must come out of this meeting. Major parties to the KP, including Japan, Russia, and Canada, have already signaled that they will not take on a second commitment because China and the United States—the world’s top two polluters that are not included in it. The European Union (EU) is prepared to sign up for a second round, but it insists that major developing countries, whose emissions are surging as their economies grow, must embrace and follow through on real commitments. Least developed Countries (LDCs), which includes Nepal, are strongly arguing for the KP to be strengthened and to raise the commitments of developed countries.