Durban disappoints with lowest common denominator climate change deal

An interfaith and civil society rally for climate justice in Durban during UN talks. Credits: Patrick Nicholson/Caritas

An interfaith and civil society rally for climate justice in Durban during UN talks.
Credits: Patrick Nicholson/Caritas

Caritas says a deal reached at climate talks in Durban leaves the world facing a catastrophic 4C increase in global temperatures.

The Durban COP17 summit ended with governments agreeing to work towards a legal treaty that will bind developed and developing countries to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The U.N. talks in South Africa extended the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, allowing five more years to reach a wider pact.

Caritas welcomed the progress made during talks, but says science shows it’s not enough to stop widespread droughts and the creation of millions of migrants as food production collapses. 

Caritas Internationalis Director of Advocacy and Policy Martina Liebsch said, “We are all polluting the environment now and everyone, every country should take responsibility for that.”

Caritas says it was important to get the commitment at Durban towards a legally binding deal on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The agreement was in large part due to leadership from a progressive alliance including the European Union and poorer countries against the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia.

It keeps a narrow pathway open to avoid a 4C rise, but lacks the ambition needed to safeguard millions of lives from the future impact of extreme weather caused by manmade climate change.

Caritas welcomed steps towards setting up a ‘Green Climate Fund’ for poorer countries vulnerable to the impact of climate change. Every $1 spent now in mitigation and adaptation will save $7 spent on emergencies.

But Caritas regrets that countries have not lived up to their pledges. Martina Liebsch said, “Money is urgently needed to help the most poor and vulnerable to adapt to Global warming and its effects.

“We need to look at innovative funding resources such as a tax on maritime transport and aviation as well as a financial transaction tax.”

Caritas is urging governments to move beyond the lowest common denominator deal in Durban and to use the Rio20+ meeting to deliver a step-change in climate action.

For more information, please contact Patrick Nicholson at or call 0039 334 3590 700.

Caritas Internationalis

President: Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle
Secretary General: Michel Roy

Caritas Internationalis
Palazzo San Calisto
Vatican City State

Reception Desk: + 39 06 698 797 99
Fax: + 39 06 698 872 37

The office is open from Monday to Friday from 8.30 am to 5.00 pm.

If you need to contact a staff member outside of office hours in a humanitarian emergency, please call + 39 334 359 0700 or email