The weekend saw the conclusion of the UN’s global conference on climate change solutions at Durban, in South Africa. Though without any legally binding agreements, or any strict agreement on targets, some argue that this was a positive step in the right direction. Eugene Robinson, a frequent columnist at the Washington Post, argues in his article that the willingness of the US, China, and India to commit to a future agreement on carbon reduction is an important step in the right direction.
His logic is that while consensus is incomplete, the mere fact of having the world’s largest emitters come together and agree to a future legally binding treaty is something that hasn’t been done before. Kyoto was the first, though inaction by the US meant the world’s largest polluter at the time would not have any responsibilities. And subsequent meetings similarly failed to produce results. But Durban is possibly the first step forward in including all the major carbon emitters into a global treaty on reduction.
It must be noted, however, that no agreement has been made on how or when to consider emission cuts. It makes sense, nonetheless, considering the current financial crisis. Governments are just not willing to sacrifice economic growth for environmental sustainability. This is the true challenge of Durban, because in spite of the last few years of low growth, temperatures continue to rise exponentially.