After running a full 36 hours over the allotted time, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting, which was assembled in Durban, agreed on the “Durban Platform for Enhanced Action”. The legally enforceable agreement requires all nations to cut carbon emissions from 2020. 

The Durban agreement has succeeded where Kyoto and Copenhagen failed, by persuading the world’s three largest carbon emitters (USA, China and India) to legally commit to lowering their carbon emissions.

Environmentalists have hailed the inclusion of China, India and the USA but warn that the proposed measures do not go far enough. Scientists argue that global emissions will have to fall before 2020 to stop global temperatures from rising by 2°C (the critical threshold for dangerous climate change according to NASA’s own scientists).

With more than 190 countries now legally committed to cutting carbon emissions, low carbon energy generation is set to be a priority for all nations involved. This should come as good news for the renewable energy industries, as many ramp up the use of low carbon technologies.

While for many years solar has been overlooked as a viable renewable energy source, mainly due to its cost, recent price declines and significant uptake have pushed it firmly into the running.

In fact, during the climate meeting it is reported that Todd Stern, the Head of the Climate Change Negotiating Team for the US Government, was vociferous in his support of the feed-in tariff system, which has proved a successful mechanism in prompting the use of solar power across Europe. Stern reportedly hailed the transformative power of feed-in tariffs, claiming that the US and other countries worldwide should adopt such a policy to empower the energy production sector of society.

If the adoption of feed-in tariff schemes grows worldwide then the solar industry will only benefit, as currently 90 percent of the world’s solar installs are attributed to a feed-in tariff scheme.

The Durban agreement has also fleshed out a Green Climate Fund that will provide around £60 billion per year of support to poorer countries to help deal with climate change. The UK has committed to provide around £1 billion worth of funding per year from 2020, which will be funded by tax payers.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne summarised: “This is a significant step forward in curbing emissions to tackle global climate change. For the first time we’ve seen major economies, normally cautious, commit to take the action demanded by the science.”