Climate talks enter crucial week

Twelve heads of state and government are expected to participate at the UN climate change negotiations, which enter a politically charged final week as parties hunt for an elusive middle ground in the troubled talks, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres has said.

About 130 ministers will also descend on the South African coastal city for negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, she told a Press conference.

To heap the pressure on the parties to cobble up a “Durban Accord” UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon will also launch a new initiative dubbed “Momentum for Change” at the COP17, whose aim is to showcase efforts that are already benefitting communities and families in developing countries, while being successful in either increasing resilience to the inevitable effects of climate change or reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Leaders from the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Gabon, Republic of Congo and Senegal are set to attend the 12-day talks, which wrap up later this week, Figueres said.

Nauru, Honduras, Samoa, Monaco, Fiji, Niue and Norway will also be represented by their heads of state.

Chad’s Idris Deby Itino and Angolan Vice-President Fernando Dos Santos attended the official opening by South Africa’s Jacob Zuma.

Ministers are set to arrive today in time to attend the high-level session tomorrow. All but three countries in the 194-nation body have sent representatives.

This is probably the first time the US has not been represented by its congress at a high-level meeting of this nature, casting doubts on whether the slippery climate deal could be struck.

Canadian Environment minister Peter Kent who indicated Kyoto was dead, Japan and Russia’s refusal to extend the protocol has thrown the climate talks off rail.

A preliminary draft of what could be a “Durban Accord” was reportedly circulated over the weekend so negotiators could continue the hunt for an opaque middle ground in the troubled talks.

The key issues on the table are the future of the Kyoto Protocol — the only international treaty limiting greenhouse gases — and whether nations should lay down an objective of crafting a comprehensive climate deal before the end of the decade.

Activating a “green climate fund” that would, by 2020, disburse $100 billion a year to poor countries, is also under discussion.

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