Hopes of a new agreement to replace the soon-to-expire 1997 Kyoto treaty on carbon emissions were fading this week.
The annual United Nations summit on climate change, which met in Durban, South Africa this week, has so far failed to agree anything.
The Kyoto agreement committed developed countries to cutting carbon emissions. Many countries that signed up missed their targets.
The world’s two biggest polluting nations, the US and China, were never part of Kyoto. China was classed as a developing country and the US refused to sign.
Over the past few years, talks have failed to agree on any successor to the treaty.
Governments in developed and developing countries have tried to avoid cutting emissions.
This year many politicians didn’t even bother to turn up to the talks—including David Cameron.
But some of the biggest polluting companies were there. South Africa’s delegation included electricity firms Sasol and Eskom.
The Canadian government has led opposition to a new treaty. It has threatened to withdraw from the Kyoto agreement before it expires next year, and has lobbied other countries to do the same.
Their hardline position is partly down to Canada’s environmentally destructive and carbon-intensive tar sands oil extraction. This has already provoked widespread international opposition.
Environmental campaigners in the US have forced the building of a tar sands oil pipeline to be suspended pending an investigation.
But Britain has lobbied against any restrictions on the practice.
Around 12,000 people demonstrated for climate justice outside the talks last Saturday. They included trade unions and other organisations representing workers, small farmers and the unemployed.
A popular slogan on the protest was the demand for the creation of climate jobs—such as building proper public transport infrastructure and investing in renewable energy. The following day some 400 attended a conference on climate jobs.
As part of an international day of action, 500 people marched in London last Saturday in a demonstration organised by Campaign Against Climate Change.