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Durban Agreement

Following various scientific studies of the impacts of greenhouse gases congregating in the upper atmosphere, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was agreed in May 1992 and signed by 155 countries at a conference in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992. The ultimate objective of this convention was-

To stabilise the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, such a level should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.

The subsequent convention signed in Kyoto committed the signatories to reducing their carbon emissions by 8- 12o/o by 2012. However not all parties to the Framework Convention signed the Kyoto convention including three of the biggest emitters- the USA, China and India.

Following these agreements there has been an annual meeting of the partners to the Convention in various parts of the world. The most recent meeting was held in Durban, South Africa during the first two weeks of December. The conference reached a significant milestone in that all "developed and developing countries will for the first time work on an agreement that should be legally binding, to be written by 2015 and to come into force after 2020:'

Any new agreement will require targets for each country to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and this is likely to depend upon the level of their emissions and their emissions per person. "The motivation could come from several sources including people power. By 2015 the world's young people in particular can be expected demand greater action as the evidence of future damage becomes clear:'
quotes from the Guardian Durban conference 7 3 December 2011

World given 2017 climate deadline

“The world is likely to build so many fossil-fuelled power stations, energy guzzling factories and inefficient buildings in the next five years that it will become impossible to hold global warming to safe levels, and the chance of combatting dangerous climate change will be lost forever”, according to the most thorough analysis yet of the world energy infrastructure.

Anything built from now on that produces carbon will do so for decades, and this “lock-in” effect will be the single factor most likely to produce irreversible climate change, the world’s foremost authority on energy economics has found. If this is not rapidly changed within the next five years, the results are likely to be disastrous,
“The door is closing,” Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency, said. “If we don’t change direction now on how we use energy, we will end up beyond what scientists tell us is the minimum [for safety]. The door will be closed forever.”

If the world is to stay below 2° C of warming, which scientists regard as the limit of safety, then emissions must be held to no more than 450 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; the level is currently around 390 ppm. But the world’s existing infrastructure is already producing 80% of that “carbon budget”, according to the IEA’s analysis, published in early December 2011.
from the Guardian 9 November 2011

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