Durban outcome disappoints developing nations

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The results of the just concluded climate talks in Durban, South Africa, were shot of developing nations' expectations as they eagerly hoped for establishment of a new treaty to govern carbon emissions.

Government officials, environmental activists and several negotiators who participated in the Durban climate talks acknowledged that political, ideological and economic interests were the major hurdle to creation of a legally binding treaty to curb green house gas emissions.

Developing countries in Africa and Asia that bear the heaviest toll of climate change related vagaries like droughts and famine fear that the momentum towards a new climate deal has stalled.

"It is good that some modicum of agreement was reached in Durban in the form of Durban Platform. I feel however that the agreement is inadequate in comparison to the requirement of serious challenges that climate change portends. The degree of ambition expected is not there, but at least it is good that an extension of the Kyoto Protocol was achieved," said Alexander Alusa, Climate Change Policy Advisor at the Office of the Kenyan Prime Minister, in an interview with Xinhua.

Kenya had prepared a strong position to present to Durban and hoped to join forces with other developing nations in lobbying for renewal of Kyoto Protocol.

The East African Nation had as well prepared a position paper that called for immediate establishment of a legally binding treaty to control carbon emissions.

However, government officials feel that few of the countries' expectations were met even as Kenya reels from devastating impact of climate change.

Alusa acknowledged that "the Durban talks were particularly taxing for the small delegations from developing countries. The last three days in particular seriously disadvantaged the small delegations given that there were many contact groups to say nothing of the side events that required full participation of these very small delegations."

He clarified that these countries however performed well given the circumstance they operated under.

"These countries fully utilized their coordinators on particular issues who reported back to the larger groups such as the Africa Group, G77 and China," said Alusa.

Alusa reiterates that ultimately every country must take responsibility for curbing green house gas emissions.

"I believe that in the long run, all of us may have to take on commitments but as stated by the climate convention, according to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and capabilities," remarked Alusa.

"I believe that sooner or later this has become the basis for future negotiations. The challenge with the new climate treaty is how long it will take to negotiate and what window of opportunity we still have to put emission reduction commitments into action," he added.

Alusa warns that business as usual portends danger to progress so far achieved in cutting down on carbon emissions.

Climate activists feel that Durban talks failed to deliver a deal that addresses the interests of developing countries bearing the brunt of floods, droughts, famines and epidemics associated with a warming planet.

"Fundamentally, the COP Process in Durban failed to deliver on expectations. The overzealous efforts by developed countries to kill the Kyoto Protocol meant that developing and less developing countries focus their efforts in protecting the Kyoto Protocol, strive for a second commitment period," said Philip Kilonzo, Technical Advisor, Livelihoods at Action Aid.

Kilonzo told Xinhua that Durban Climate talks only made negligible progress towards creation of a new climate regime and failed to deliver long-term measures that cushion poor nations from adverse impacts of climate change.

He said that "smallholder farmers in Africa urgently need money to adapt their livelihood sector that is under threat of climate change."

Kilonzo regretted that governments squandered an opportunity to negotiate for a new climate treaty and instead crowded the debate with resolutions that spared rich countries from stringent rules on slashing emissions.

He added that developed countries failed to honor financial commitments that would assist poor nations initiate sustainable climate mitigation and adaptation programs.

Kilonzo revealed that developing countries had formidable unity during the Durban talks but at some stages they differed on certain issues.

He reiterates that developed countries are the major stumbling block to extension of Kyoto Protocol, "as the second commitment period threatens their development prospects and places financial commitment to less developed countries."

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