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Christiana Figueres: ‘Alarm bells’ sound on climate deal

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Summary of story from Business Green, November 28, 2011

The Durban Climate Summit opened yesterday with the chair of the conference invoking the leadership skills of Nelson Mandela in a bid to push countries towards an agreement on limiting global greenhouse gas emissions.

Delegates from more than 190 countries gathered in the South African city were told by Christiana Figueres, the UN’s lead climate official, that a future commitment to slash greenhouse gas emissions was “the defining issue” of the conference.

Countries are looking to finalise a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires next year, taking with it the binding emissions-reduction targets imposed on developed countries, as well the legal basis for global carbon trading schemes.

Plans have been discussed but little progress towards a solution was made at last year’s summit in Cancun and many commentators are expecting the same absence of outcome from Durban.

But Ms Figueres indicated she had not lost hope that a new deal could be secured. “It always seems impossible until it is done,” she said, quoting Mandela.

She told reporters that governments were “fully aware” of the importance of Kyoto.

“I believe there will be very serious effort here in Durban to move into a second commitment period,” she said.

She also ratcheted up the pressure on world leaders by referencing a series of reports published over the last fortnight that showed the perilous state of the environment.

She said the findings were “sounding alarm bells for urgent action” and argued that finding a solution required “nothing short of the most compelling energy, industrial and behavioural revolution that humanity has ever seen”.

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