COP 17 establishes working group
Johannesburg - An ad hoc working group will work towards charting a new universal legal agreement on climate change, the presidency of the 17th United Nations Conference of Parties (Cop17) said on Sunday.
"Governments decided to adopt a universal legal agreement on climate change as soon as possible, but not later than 2015," said Cop17 spokesperson Clayson Monyela in a statement.
He said work towards this step would be undertaken by a newly-established ad hoc working group.
Monyela said that the governments attending had also agreed to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol from January 1 2013, although an amendment was made to the protocol.
The Kyoto Protocol remains the only global legally binding treaty towards combating climate change.
Monyela said that several measures to help developing countries deal with climate change issues had been agreed upon at the conference.
For example, he said some countries at the talks pledged to help with the start-up costs of a green climate fund which would assist developing countries to adapt to climate change and begin using new forms of clean energy.
A web-based registry would be created to match funders with projects in developing countries designed to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Monyela said a standing committee had also been established to oversee the finances of the parties involved in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Cop's work.
In January next year the UNFCC secretariat would issue a call for proposal by countries seeking to host a climate technology centre and network.
The talks also resulted in a decision to establish both a forum and a plan of action to deal with unintended consequences of climate change and the policies around it, Monyela said.
Earlier on Sunday morning, minister of international relations Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said she was satisfied with the outcome of the climate talks and the "political will" demonstrated by the attendants to move forward on the issue.
The 14 day conference was scheduled to end on Friday, but it only concluded on Sunday morning due to delays in reaching an agreement following the meeting.
The next Conference of Parties (Cop18) will be chaired and hosted by Qatar between November 26 and December 8 next year.
Greenpeace slammed the outcome of the conference as ensuring that the interests of polluting corporations were put above concerns over how poorer countries would cope with climate change.
"Polluters won, people lost," said Greenpeace International's executive director Kumi Naidoo in a statement issued earlier on Sunday morning.
"Our governments this past two weeks listened to the carbon-intensive polluting corporations instead of listening to the people who want an end to our dependence on fossil fuels and real and immediate action on climate change," he said.