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In a previous essay – following the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP-17) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which adjourned on December 11, 2011 – I offered my assessment of the Durban climate negotiations, addressing the frequently-posed question of whether the talks had “succeeded.” I took note of three major outcomes from the negotiations: (1) elaboration on several components of the Cancun Agreements; (2) a second five-year commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol; and (3) a non-binding agreement to reach an agreement by 2015 that will bring all countries under the same legal regime by 2020. My conclusion was that this package – in total – represented something of a “half-full glass of water,” that is, an outcome that could be judged successful or not, depending upon one’s perspective. However, something I did not discuss in that previous essay is that this third provision - the “Durban Platform for Enhanced Action” - has opened an important window. To explain what I mean requires a brief review of some key points from twenty years of history of international climate negotiations.


Stavins, Robert N. "An Unambiguous Consequence of the Durban Climate Talks." Review of Environment, Energy and Economics (March 9, 2012): 1-4.