This is a critical moment in the development of the international climate regime as Parties negotiate to decide the fate of climate action beyond 2012 in Durban, South Africa.

Update: December 11, 2011: At Climate Talks: Nations agree to do tomorrow what they should have done yesterday

The Bigger Picture

The first set of commitments by developed countries to reduce emissions under the Kyoto Protocol end in 2012. It’s almost the end of 2011 and, so far, negotiations to determine climate action beyond 2012 have not yielded a concrete outcome. Parties agreed a plan in 2007 to establish a new set of commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, along with an outcome to address emissions by the United States and developing countries by no later than 2009.

However, 2009 came and went with little but a political agreement by Heads of State on elements of an outcome. In 2010, Parties adopted the Cancun Agreements, which are foundational decisions on elements of an outcome (such as mitigation, finance, adaptation etc), with work programs to elaborate those elements by 2011. While some of these steps are positive, there is still no agreement on the legal architecture of the outcome or the mitigation commitments and actions that countries will take. With 2012 almost upon us, time is running out to negotiate a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol or any other outcome with legal effect to avoid a gap in climate action beyond 2012. Thus, the Durban Meetings will be a crucial moment for the future of the international climate regime.

For more information about what’s at stake, see our blog posting.

CIEL’s Work

While in Durban, CIEL will be working on a number of issues:

Legal Architecture and Measurement, Reporting, and Verification (MRV): CIEL will be providing technical expertise on legal architecture issues and MRV (which deals with overall accountability in the regime). CIEL has helped shape NGO network positions in the lead up to Durban in these areas, including the Climate Action Network’s Durban Expectations Document and a Submission on MRV to the UNFCCC.

Safeguards and Accountability: A core part of CIEL’s work is to help ensure that international actions to address climate change is good for communities and ecosystems. This includes policies designed to protect rights and the environment, prevent or minimize harms (safeguards) and improve processes for those affected to raise concerns (public participation and grievance processes).

  • Finance: CIEL is working to ensure that operational policies for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) promote safeguards and improve accountability of the fund. Click here for CIEL’s submission on these issues to the UNFCCC.
  • Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD): In 2010, Parties agreed to a set of key international REDD safeguards. This year, we expect a decision on how safeguards will be implemented and monitored. For CIEL’s views on this, click here. For more information on forests and climate change is also available here.
  • Clean Development Mechanism: Parties are negotiating the terms of a new appeals procedure under the CDM. CIEL is working to ensure that those who are allowed to make such an appeal include individuals and groups affected by a CDM project. CIEL’s submission to the CDM on the Tata Mundra Project exemplifies the need for this mechanism.

International Coal Campaign: To prevent dangerous anthropogenic climate change, countries must reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and transition to low carbon economies. International financing of coal plants, like the World Bank’s decision to grant a 3 billion dollar loan to South Africa to construct a new coal plant (see CIEL’s critique on this) significantly limit countries’ abilities to achieve such goals and lock them into an unsustainable energy future for decades to come. As Parties gather in South Africa for this conference, CIEL will be supporting the efforts of partners in the international campaign to fight coal financing (see Dirty Energy Week for updates of action on the ground).


CIEL will be participating in the following events:

  • Dec 2, 11:30-13:00: Side event on safeguards and grievance mechanisms in the UNFCCC
  • Dec 5, Time TBA: SBI Special Event on public participation in the high level segment Side