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Cover Stories Series 2011
UPDATED: December 13, 2011
UN Climate Conference in Durban Concludes With Late Deal

Delegates at the Durban climate change conference have reached a hard-fought agreement on a complex and far-reaching program in the fight against growing emissions. But how are those at the gathering responding to the deal?

The Durban conference finally came to a conclusion, with a late deal secured after nearly 36 hours of extra-time. The dramatic marathon negotiations on a new legal deal covering all countries will begin 2012 and end by 2015, taking effect by 2020 at the latest.

The green fund for climate aid to poor countries has also been agreed, but how to raise the money has not.

The United States, which has never ratified the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, was a reluctant supporter, concerned about agreeing to join an international climate system that likely would find much opposition at home.

But due to its increasingly isolated situation and pressure from environmental groups, the U.S. had to cooperate.

Todd Stern, the U.S. special envoy on climate change, said, "We just have effectively finished, there's details that still have to get done, but we effectively finished the negotiations and I think in the end it ended up quite well."

However, as Stern took the brunt of fire, he admitted that there was plenty that the U.S. is not happy about. On the other hand, Europeans were much more positive.

Connie Hedegaard, European commissioner for climate action, said, "We think we had the right strategy, we think that it worked, and the very good thing is that now all big economies, all parties will have to commit in the future in a legal way."

Developing countries, after making a compromise, have also made great efforts in the talks. Jayanthi Natarajan, Indian environment minister, said, "We've had very intense discussions. Of course, as you know, we were not happy with reopening the text but in a spirit of flexibility and accommodation shown by all we have shown our flexibility and we have agreed to this."

But the final deal will not meet everyone's expectations. Some scientists fear it would be an empty shell unless urgent actions are taken, or the Earth will be set on a possibly irreversible path of rising temperatures that lead to ever greater climate catastrophes.

(CNTV.cn December 11, 2011)

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