On Monday 28th November 2011 the 17th UN Climate Summit opened in Durban, South Africa. The 195 UNFCCC members (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) will be discussing for two weeks on some major issues regarding the international response to climate change. In her opening remarks Ms Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC since May 2010, focused on two important steps that are at the centre of the UNFCCC’s agenda. The first one is the setting up of climate institutions as stated in the Cancun Agreement reached at COP16 (Conference of the Parties) in December 2010. These institutions are supposed to provide developing countries with finance, technology and capacity-building supports in order to enhance their capacity for adaptation to climate change, and therefore reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards. Furthermore, Ms Figueres highlighted the importance of defining actions to ramp up funding towards the $100 billion dollars of long-term climate finance that, as already agreed by governments, will be provided to developing countries by year 2020. The second step is addressed to the emission reduction of greenhouse gases. According to the Kyoto Protocol, 37 industrialized countries and the European Community, identified as the major contributors to global warming, have to reduce their GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions to levels of 5.2% lower than what was observed in 1990. On December 31st, 2012, the first Kyoto Protocol commitment period will expire, and therefore it is time to establish further commitments of developed countries. At the same time, in order to make the mitigation process more efficient, the United Nations Convention should define strategies to broaden participation among the developing countries. Despite the stated purposes of the opening press briefing, doubts and skepticism towards the outcomes of the South African summit have been expressed by the international press. Some argue that since their establishment in 1992 the UNFCCC has conducted several long-standing negotiations that haven’t reached any important step. The current agenda seems to be familiar to those who are not new to debates on climate change measures. The Global North is the major responsible for CO2 emissions whose consequences are affecting the Global South, however many developed countries haven’t shown any serious commitment to the climate change cause. By the end of 2012, in fact, Japan, Canada, France, Spain and the Netherlands are likely to miss their Kyoto targets. Furthermore, there has been a long debate over the carbon trading market. According to it, carbon can be treated as any other product in the market place, and therefore nations or companies can trade it. In this case, when a nation buys carbon from another one, it is actually buying the rights to burn it while the selling country is giving up its rights to burn it. This opportunity doesn’t represent a threat to the planet as long as gas emissions are globally reduced. Unfortunately, in profit-driven societies the setting up of carbon markets has failed to emphasise the need to invest in renewable energy shifting the attention from climate change to economic interests. The carbon trade is just one of the many examples that show how far we are from being environmentally conscious. Why is it so difficult to understand the importance of reducing GHG emissions? Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts, made an interesting point regarding the issue mentioned above. Looking at the many green campaigns promoted in the UK, he questions whether they were effective and, instead of looking for reinforcing arguments to promote sustainable behaviours, he suggests to ‘keep the case in a simple way’. Investing money in something that doesn’t give us any direct benefit is a form of insurance. This is a widespread practice in our society; for example, people are usually willing to pay for house insurance even if the real risk of their house getting burned is remote. In the same way, investing in climate change risk reduction is a form of insurance that protect us from consequences that are far more dangerous than our burning house, no matter how remote these consequences may seem today.