International climate talks in Durban have seen India, China and US commit to a legally binding limitation on fossil fuel emissions after all participating countries have agreed to produce the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to negotiate a new legal agreement by 2015, taking effect by 2020.


Also agreed to was the $100 billion per year Green Climate Fund to assist developing nations adapt to new emissions caps.


The agreement removes the single largest stumbling block for the US, who has hitherto refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol while major developing nations were under no obligation to cap their emissions.  It was also announced that the protocol will be expanded by a further 5 years after it expires in 2012.


There had been concern that the summit would end with no deal. The US, China and India – the world's three biggest emitters – were resisting the idea of a roadmap for a binding agreement by 2015. Both China and the US said they would not agree to a deal unless the other participated.


Binding emissions commitments made under the 1997 Kyoto protocol will continue until 2020. The first commitment period of Kyoto is scheduled to end at the end of next year. But with Russia, Canada and Japan no longer participating, it will leave the EU as the only major emitter implementing Kyoto. The second commitment period will make little difference to EU climate policy as the bloc already has its own binding targets for 2020. But it will ensure that there is no gap in the UN process up to 2020.


The major agreements from the talks were:

  • Improved transparency and better monitoring, reporting and verification of countries' emissions reduction actions;
  • Governance arrangements which will establish a new Green Climate Fund to help developing countries reduce emissions and adapt to climate change;
  • Progress the REDD+ mechanism which will reward developing countries for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation;
  • Develop new market mechanisms to drive opportunities for low cost greenhouse gas abatement;
  • An Adaptation Committee to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change;
  • Rules for a new Technology mechanism to speed up transfer of low pollution technologies to developing countries.