Even as representatives from nearly 200 countries celebrated the last-minute compromise they fashioned at U.N. climate talks Sunday in Durban, South Africa, it became clear that its real-world outcome will be largely determined in Asia, rather than in Africa or the West.
Broad in scope but short on details, the Durban Platform aims to break down the firewall that has divided the historic big emitters of greenhouse gases — industrialized nations — from the major developing countries whose emissions, scientists say, are now driving future climate change.
The existing climate treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, did not require developing nations to reduce emissions. The Durban Platform starts a new process whose goal is to complete, by 2015, a global climate pact with legal force, applying to all nations. This will mean major developing nations will be required to make cuts.
The documents agreed to in Durban, after an unusual extension of the talks by more than 24 hours beyond their scheduled adjournment, also flesh out details of several key programs. Those include two transferring technology and climate aid to developing nations and one laying the groundwork for international monitoring of countries’ efforts to cut emissions.