Jan. 25, 2012
JOHN M. BRODER
Published: January 24, 2012
WASHINGTON — Critics and supporters alike agree that the U.N. forum for negotiating international climate change policies is an ungainly mess, its annual gatherings marked by discord, disarray and brinkmanship.
Each year, exhausted delegates and observers return home thinking that there has to be a better way to address what they believe to be one of the defining challenges of our time: the relentless warming of the planet and its impact on the world’s inhabitants.
But the recently concluded meeting in Durban, South Africa, which established a new mandate for concluding a binding agreement of some sort by 2015, has given the process new life and hushed many of its critics. For now.
“Apart from the fact that we took 36 hours longer than we expected, I actually think Durban will be proven by history to be the most encompassing and farthest reaching agreements that any climate conference has ever reached,” said Christiana Figueres, the Costa Rican diplomat who leads the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, the body that oversees the negotiations.