The next two weeks will see nearly 20,000 people descending on Durban for this year’s Climate Change negotiations. What might they achieve? Not much, if you believe some of the pessimistic assessments in the press. Are the gloomsters right? No, not necessarily.
What could be achieved?
Here goes… starting with the practical decisions that are on the agenda, and could affect peoples’ lives fairly quickly:
- A global system of technology centers that would provide access to knowledge and capacity building in developing countries for climate smart technology – which in turn could yield more investment, more jobs and lower costs.
- A system that would help developing countries prepare and finance their adaptation plans.
- A decision to incorporate agriculture fully into the Convention (something that, oddly, has never been done), allowing poor farmers to benefit from climate finance.
- Simpler rules on how to credit greenhouse gases from forests, in turn making it simpler to prevent deforestation, and for forest dwellers to access support.
- Common rules allowing city-wide approaches to dealing with climate change. (Many cities are showing more leadership than countries).
- New eligibility procedures that would help bring sustainable energy to the 65% of African households that currently have no electricity.
- Agreements that would encourage the development of a long-term networked carbon market that would lower the costs of addressing climate change and bring finance and technology to developing countries.
There is a risk that these measures will be crowded out by the big political decisions at Durban. This would be a mistake. While not game-changers individually, they are important building blocks towards an eventual global deal.