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The 17th session of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP 17) and the seventh session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 7) to the Kyoto Protocol will take place in Durban, South Africa. South Africa's website: www.cop17durban.com... dates: 28 November - 9 December 2011 location: Durban (Kwazulu-Natal), South Africa contact: UNFCCC Secretariat
Durban - After 12 days of wrangling, UN climate talks went into extra time on Friday with China, the US and India facing pressure to back a European bid for a new worldwide pact on greenhouse gases.
But with conference chair South Africa taking a cautious, consensus-building approach, the outcome remained extremely unpredictable.
A core group of ministers from about two dozen countries, representative of rich and poor countries alike, was expected to haggle into the night.
Assuming they found common ground, their compromise would be put to a plenary of the 194-nation UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on Saturday.
On the table is a European scheme claimed to be backed by nearly two-thirds of the world's nations.
They support a "roadmap" leading to an accord, to be negotiated by 2015 which for the first time would bind all nations to legal commitments to tackle greenhouse gases.
Rallying around the European proposal are the least developed countries, the African bloc, small island states and Brazil and South Africa, said European Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard.
Without naming names, Hedegaard said this left the United States, China and India to declare their hand. The US and China are the world's biggest emitters.
"The success or failure of Durban depends on the small number of countries who have not yet committed to the roadmap and the meaningful content that it of course must have," said Hedegaard.
The roadmap scheme aims at filling a void at a time when scientists are urging ever more radical action to curb carbon emissions driving the planet to worsening food, drought, rising seas and storms.
The goal is to bridge the gap between the end of 2012 - when the first round of legal-binding curbs commitments under the Kyoto Protocol expire - and 2020, the date for which countries have made voluntary pledges on carbon reductions.
China has long resisted calls to be legally bound by a climate treaty, insisting that as a developing country it should not have to, whereas developed countries should, as they have a larger share of historical emissions. But now it must make a tricky choice – to spurn the offer of an extension to Kyoto, which would paint it firmly as the villain, the wrecker of a deal and thus of the climate; or to move away from its entrenched opposition to a legally binding treaty, and start being treated more like a developed country. That choice will reshape the world's approach to climate change forever.
Even with China on board, however, the future of climate negotiations is not assured. The US, which signed up to Kyoto in 1997 under Bill Clinton, only to never ratify the agreement because of stiff opposition in Congress, is another. For President Obama, facing an election campaign amid the worst recession for 80 years, the political reality is a Durban deal would be used as ammunition by his opponents, most of whom dismiss climate change as a conspiracy to defraud Americans. For the real villain – look behind Obama, to the Republican party.
A climate change meeting to be addressed by President Jacob Zuma took an unruly turn at the Durban City Hall on Thursday when people carrying posters reading “Zuma stand with the poor, not the USA” were attacked by supporters of the president.
The aim of the meeting was for Zuma to give feedback on a consultation session with civil society organisations on the sidelines of the 17th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP17).
Another group, who sang Zuma songs, grabbed the demonstrators and pushed them out of the hall.