‘Meaningful climate action postponed for a decade’ says Church World Service

December 13, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC — Following Sunday’s conclusion of two weeks of talks at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, Church World Service today issued a statement lamenting the postponement of  “meaningful action” on man-made threats to the atmosphere and planet and again called on President Obama and the U.S. Congress to act boldly to address the crisis.

The CWS statement, sent to President Obama and Congress by the agency’s CEO and Executive Director Rev. John L. McCullough, expressed concern that “the negotiators have pushed decisive action many years ahead,” while “the global family is in a perilous race against the clock on climate change.”

While noting that the final agreement reached in Durban by the 194 participating nations puts in place a process for future negotiations toward a legal agreement that would include the United States, global humanitarian agency CWS expressed concern that “in view of the history of negotiations and current practice, it is not at all certain that even this longer term process will be successful.”

Prior to the start of the climate change conference, McCullough had sent a letter to President Obama urging the United States to take the lead at Durban in securing a “strong, binding agreement on emissions reductions,” as well as a secure and certain source of climate funding for developing countries being devastated by climate change.

The Durban negotiators extended the Kyoto Protocol agreement, which was set to expire next year. The United States is not among the 193 nations who signed the original Kyoto Protocol, which is the only international legal agreement for addressing climate change. And, while governments who agreed to extend the Kyoto Protocol include 35 industrialized nations, the U.S. still is not included.

All representatives attending COP-17 pledged to work on a universal legal agreement on climate change, to be adopted no later than 2015 and put into force no later than 2020. But relief and development agency head McCullough warned that, “A new legal agreement outside of Kyoto could be much weaker, failing to utilize Kyoto’s existing reporting and accounting mechanisms already in place.”

CWS’ ongoing advocacy around climate change and leading up to Durban included urging the U.S. government to lead the way in moving industrialized nations toward agreement on clear mitigation commitments; on long-term funding commitments to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change; and on a transparent, accountable and environmentally sound Green Climate Fund (GCF) that would be accountable to the vulnerable communities it is designed to help.

The Durban accord left the issue of Green Climate Fund funds distribution mechanics by the wayside, and by the end of COP-17, there was no progress on securing a specific source of long-term funding. The CWS statement said that, “Durban’s outcomes fall far short of specificity on any of those components.

“Developing countries desperately need that money now and in years to come,” said McCullough, noting that negotiators have merely reached an “agreement to postpone meaningful action for up to a decade.”

Church World Service pledged to “continue to be a passionate advocate for a more just and adequate climate policy, and we will continue to work with our partners around the world to improve the resiliency of impoverished communities to adapt to the challenges they face.”

Full statement: www.churchworldservice.org/durban2011

Learn more about the COP17 summit.


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