Durban. OK, we can sense your eyes glazing over and your attention shifting but honest to goodness, something significant has actually come out of the latest UN climate conference. Really, truly. Here it is: all countries have agreed to negotiate by 2015 a single, legally binding global agreement that will cover all major carbon pollution emitters including the big guns -- China, India and the United States. Never before have all major emitters agreed to have pollution commitments captured by a single, legally enforceable agreement. This eliminates the question oft repeated in this country -- if they're not, why should we? Of course this agreement will not in any way set the world on course to reach its agreed goal to limit global warming to 2°. But as Giles Parkinson writes today, the key message to come out of what is now being called the Durban Mandate is one for investors:
... the message to investors could not be clearer: the world is committed to de-carbonising the global economy. Be prepared. The carbon crunch will last a lot longer and have a far greater impact than the credit crunch.
Another surprise to come out of the conference? The EU is capable of uniting around an issue. As The Independent UK reports, Connie Hedegaard, the Dane who is the European Union's leading climate negotiator, persuaded her Indian opposite number, Jayanthi Natarajan, to accept a form of words meaning that all countries would be legally bound, in a future climate treaty, to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases. India had up until then been the main objector to the idea of a legally binding agreement. "There is no doubt that the outcome was a notable success for the European Union as a corporate body acting together, as all member states had maintained a completely united front over their quest for a new climate treaty," writes Michael McCarthy in The Indy. Now if only they could take that approach to saving the euro economy, a variable that could have a far greater impact on investors in the near future than any kind of agreement coming out of Durban ... *Meanwhile, the cabinet reshuffle will be announced at 1.15pm, check back to The Stump for Bernard Keane's take.