Last week’s COP17 conference on climate change ended with a deal made in extra time that promisingly prolongs the fate of the Kyto Protocol but does nothing to ensure the deep, immediate cuts in GHG emissions that are needed to protect our oceans now.

Last week’s COP17 conference on climate change ended with a deal made in extra time that promisingly prolongs the fate of the Kyto Protocol but does nothing to ensure the deep, immediate cuts in GHG emissions that are needed to protect our oceans now.

Efforts for large parts of the conference went towards saving the Kyoto Protocol as some countries such as the US and Canada did their utmost to remove any legally binding element to a new deal and in essence put the earth on course for a dangerous 3˚C trajectory.

The risk for the marine environment is clear: Continued and increased levels of carbon dioxide will cause widespread acidification of the seas, with potentially catastrophic consequences for the world’s oceans and those that depend on them for their livelihood.

NGOs have said that a much stronger outcome in Durban would have been possible, if there had been enough support for proposals made by African, Least Developed, Small Island and European countries.

However, countries like Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and especially the US made it impossible for such proposals to fly.

From a European perspective, although the EU and Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard should be applauded for taking a constructive role in building alliances with other progressive groups of countries, the EU must urgently deal with its own low level of ambition for reduced emissions and start increasing its target well beyond 30%.

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