Last minute climate pact saves blushes

Julian Harris
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POLITICIANS agreed a last minute pact yesterday to force the world’s biggest polluting countries to take action on greenhouse gas emissions – yet activists remain unimpressed, while businesses appear indifferent to the developments.

A survey from PwC showed that indecision at international climate summits has paled in comparison with the effects on businesses from other global events, such as the Eurozone crisis, Japanese earthquake and the Arab Spring uprisings.

“Business will shrug its shoulders over Durban and wait for direction from national capitals,” said PwC’s Jonathan Grant. “There is still no more ambition than what we saw in Cancun or Copenhagen. What we got was a clear signal that we might get another clear signal in 2015.”

Delegates at the summit in South Africa agreed to start work next year on a new, legally binding accord to cut greenhouse gases, to be decided by 2015 and to come into force by 2020.

The process for doing so, called the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, would “develop a new protocol, another legal instrument or agreed outcome with legal force” that would be applicable under the UN climate convention.

The agreement involved giant emerging economies China and India, as well as the US. The US had refused to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

South African foreign minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said the talks had “made history”, after an embarrassing impasse was avoided in the meeting’s final stages.

Meanwhile, firms are pushing ahead with their own plans, according to both PwC and a separate statement from the CBI. “Businesses have not slowed the pace of managing emissions, developing low-carbon products, and investing in sources of low-carbon energy,” the CBI said.