The Durban Scramble Is On

A demonstrator with Oxfam outside of the COP17 proceedings on Friday.<a href="">Oxfam International</a>/Flickr

A decision on a climate agreement was uncertain late Friday night in Durban, as ministers rejected the proposed text from the South African leaders of the meeting.

Draft text was made public at around 6 p.m. on Friday night, Durban time. But the draft was too weak for many, including the European Union, small island nations, and the least developed countries. Its call for a path forward was rather vague, with a stated goal of launching “a process in order to develop a legal framework” at some unspecified point “after 2020.” The text also stated that a “subsidiary body” would be created at next year’s meeting to develop that framework.

The draft was just over one page in length, but it evoked a strong response from countries that have pushed for a legally binding deal as soon as possible. The EU had been pushing for a 2015 due date for a legal agreement that would cover all countries. Opponents of the draft called out the US, China, India and Brazil for standing in the way of action.

South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, the president of the COP, went back to the drawing board for new text, and the official meeting was adjourned. But ministers convened for another “indaba”—a Zulu word for meeting of high-level officials—at midnight. According to the UNFCCC, the official meetings will reconvene Saturday morning.

Right now, though, no one knows what will happen. It’s not clear whether ministers will agree on the new draft,or what that draft will even look like. Observers are making all kinds of guesses about when and how this thing will wrap up. I’m going to sleep for a bit, but will be back with an update at some point tomorrow.