Delegates agree on future emissions treaty

Dec. 11, 2011 at 10:25 AM

DURBAN, South Africa, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Delegates from more than 190 countries at a U.N. meeting in South Africa agreed Sunday to work toward an emissions-reduction treaty, officials said.

The agreement came after nearly 72 hours of continuous debates in Durban over a 20-year-old system that requires industrialized countries to meet emissions requirements while exempting developing countries, The New York Times reported. Delegates from China and India argued against equal requirements, saying greater restrictions would slow growth.

"Am I to write a blank check and sign away the livelihoods and sustainability of 1.2 billion Indians, without even knowing what the [European Union] 'road map' contains?" India's environment minister, Jayanthi Natarajan, asked at the meeting. "Please do not hold us hostage."

The current protocol of different terms for advanced and developing countries was extended for several more years, the Times said, but an agreement was made to replace it with a new treaty in 2017 or 2020. The terms of the new agreement would have to be negotiated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Some worried the results of the meeting will not have much of an impact on climate change.

"While governments avoided disaster in Durban, they by no means responded adequately to the mounting threat of climate change," Alden Meyer, director of policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the Times. "The decisions adopted here fall well short of what is needed."

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