Preparations have began in Panama City, Panama, for the next round of United Nations Climate Change talks set to take place in Durban, South Africa from November 28th to December 9th this year. Experts from 196 countries will be formulating documents for the meeting while climate advocates like Greenpeace have traveled to Panama to pressure negotiators to come to an agreement that would limit warming to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) meaning that countries like Russia, China, India and Brazil would have to agree to do more to curb their greenhouse gas emissions. The existing Kyoto Protocol is set to expire in late 2012.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, arrived in Panama City on October 3rd, 2011, to resume consultations with a variety of groupings and stakeholders taking part in the crucial meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Nkoana-Mashabane is taking part in the meeting in her capacity as incoming President of the 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) to the UNFCCC and the Seventh Conference of Parties serving as the Meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP7). The Minister will meet the UNFCCC Secretariat as well as a variety of groups and stakeholders including Africa Group, the G77 and China, the European Union, the Umbrella Group and the Environmental Integrity Group in order to consult widely towards a balanced and credible outcome at the COP17/CMP7 conference.
Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, said that during the past year, governments had been steadily building the pillars that would support the next chapter of the global climate regime. She recently called upon the same governments taking part in the negotiations to scale up their efforts to combat the problem of climate change ahead of the UN conference. Figueres said the Panama negotiations would provide member states with the chance to work on their proposals and focus on key issues to be resolved ahead of Durban.