Success at Durban
President of the Conference Maite Nkoana-Mashabane
The greatest achievement at Durban was arguably a geopolitical one. Before the conference many had worried that certain countries would not commit to reducing their carbon emissions unless other countries followed suit, and that developing countries were unlikely to commit as it could sacrifice their economic growth. The fact that a deal was signed by over 190 countries including China and the US is a great accomplishment, it has meant that climate change negotiations will continue, and both developed and developing nations are prepared to commit.
Failures and Uncertainties
2°C is too much
The Alliance of Small Island states have produced a report: “1.5 to stay alive”, which notes that if global temperatures increase by more than 1.5°C, small islands will face a high probability of destruction.
Although there are many varying scientific studies on the issue, and by its very nature the science is uncertain and contentious, there has been recent evidence to suggest that the effects of a 2°C rise would be more dangerous than previously thought. 
We won’t reach the 2°C target
The Alliance of Small Island States in their announcement before the Durban conference stated that it would not accept outcomes that delay a legally binding agreement until 2020 . The main agreement at Durban will not come into force until 2020, although there has been an extension of the Kyoto Protocol for some countries, others, such as Canada, have pulled out. This is because continuing with “Business as Usual” may lead to a rise in temperatures above the 2°C that politicians have deemed acceptable.
The commitments won’t materialise
Although it was decided at Durban that there will be negotiations for a legally binding agreement in 2015 for action in 2020, this leaves much room for countries to disagree, pull out, and refuse to make legally binding commitments. Much of the response to the agreement, even the positive response, has been that there is much left to come, and that further commitments must be made. The Green Climate Fund, to help developing countries adapt to climate change and lower emissions, was discussed at Durban, with a proposed $100bn annual contributions from developed nations, but with economic uncertainty for many countries at the moment, it is unclear where that money will come from, and whether the full $100bn will be raised.
Impacts on Investment
What green investors really need from these international discussions is a clear policy framework, so that calculations can be made for valuations into the future. Durban did not produce this, but has taken a step towards it as there is now a clear timeline for future policy negotiations. The agreement has shown that nations are still concerned about climate change and lowering emissions, which may instil some confidence for green investment funds, which will benefit from the transition to a low carbon world.