OPENING CEREMONY: The 17th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 7th session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol opens in the coastal city of Durban, South Africa, on November 28 (XINHUA)
The 17th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 7th session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol opened in the coastal city of Durban, South Africa, on November 28.
The need for concrete action has never been more compelling and it was urgent for all the parties to pursue a constructive way forward, said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, at the opening ceremony.
"We meet here at a time when more and more, the impacts of climate change are pressing on people's lives and livelihood. Concentrations in the atmosphere have never been greater, and the number of lives impacted by climate change has never been bigger," said Figueres.
The conference in Durban has two decisive agendas, said Figueres. The first is to further implement the Cancun Agreements, launch the Green Climate Fund and strengthen international cooperation on climate change. The other is about the adoption of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.
"I urge you to remember it always seems impossible until it is not," she said.
Her remarks were made in light of the big challenges facing the negotiations. Huge differences, especially on the key issue of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, are shadowing the climate talks. After three preparatory meetings before this conference, Japan, Canada and Russia said they would not sign a commitment to the second period.
The Kyoto Protocol sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European Union for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The first commitment period will expire at the end of 2012.
Christiana Figueres was appointed as the new Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on May 17, 2010.
The conference will last until December 9.
(Reporting from Durban, South Africa)