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December 10, 2012

Doha Delegates 'COP a Plea' for Prodigious Emissions Pledges by 2020



Speaking at a press briefing on December 9 — a couple of days after the official closing of the two-week UN Climate Change Conference in Doha — COP18 President and  Deputy Prime Minister  of Qatar Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah characterized the summit as a “gateway to the future.”

Despite many extra hours of confrontation and compromise, the 200 delegates came away with some important concessions — among them, the following:

Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, president of COP18, signals an end to  the negotiations. (Photo courtesy of UN Climate Change Conference)

Kyoto Protocol

 The conference adopted an amendment setting out the rules governing the second period of the Kyoto Protocol. The period will commence on January 1, 2013, and un for eight years — thus ensuring that no gap will occur between its culmination and the effective date of the new global agreement in 2020. The countries participating in the second Kyoto period account for only about 14 percent of world emissions. This underscores the need for the future climate regime to involve action by all countries.

The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it set binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European Union for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions These amounted to an average of 5 percent against 1990 levels over the first five-year period, from  2008 through 2012.

Countries that are taking on further commitments under the Kyoto Protocol have agreed to review their emission reduction commitments at the latest by 2014, with a view toward increasing their respective levels of ambition.

Australia, the EU, Japan, Lichtenstein, Monaco and Switzerland have declared that they will not carry over any surplus emissions trading credits (Assigned Amounts) into the second commitment period.

Durban Platform

At the request of the European Union, the conference agreed on a work plan for 2013 and beyond guided by the Durban Platform. The platform has a dual mandate — (1) to draw up a new global climate agreement with all countries, scheduled to be adopted in 2015; and (2) to identify ways to achieve more ambitious global emission reductions for 2020 in order to close the gap between current emission pledges and what is needed to hold global warming below 2°C.

The work plan agreed upon in Doha sets out a schedule of events and suggests themes to be addressed under both work streams. The intention of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to convene a summit of world leaders on climate change in 2014 will provide political momentum for this work.

Governments have agreed to submit to the UN Climate Change Secretariat, by March 1, 2013, information, views and proposals on actions, initiatives and options to enhance global emission reductions. Elements of a negotiating text are to be available no later than the end of 2014, so that a draft negotiating text is available before May 2015.

Streamlined Negotiations

The international climate negotiations process was streamlined through the successful closure of the parallel working groups on the Kyoto Protocol and on long-term cooperative action under the UN climate convention. The Durban Platform will, therefore, be the sole negotiating forum for the 2015 agreement.

Climate finance

A package of decisions encourages developed countries to keep climate funding from 2013 through 2015 to at least the average level of their Fast Start financing. The decisions also extend a work program on long-term finance for another year, with the aim of helping developed countries identify pathways for scaling up climate finance to US $100 billion per year by 2020 from public, private and alternative sources.

The delegates also endorsed the selection of the Republic of Korea as the location of the Green Climate Fund and the work plan of the Standing Committee on Finance. The Green Climate Fund is expected to start its work in Sondgo in the second half of 2013, which means that it can launch activities in 2014.

Reimbursements for loss and damage associated with climate change

Doha addressed a key concern of developing countries by agreeing to an international mechanism to address loss and damage associated with the impacts of climate change in particularly vulnerable nations. The arrangements will be established at the UN climate conference to be held at the end of 2013in Warsaw.

Development and transfer of technology

Delegates have agreed to advance the development and transfer of technologies that can help developing countries adapt and curb their emissions.

Actions on forests

Governments have further clarified ways to measure deforestation and to ensure that efforts to fight deforestation are supported.

At the press conference, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres, called on participating countries to swiftly implement what has been agreed in Doha so that the world can stay below the internationally agreed maximum 2°C temperature rise. “I congratulate the Qatar Presidency for managing a complex and challenging conference. Now, there is much work to do. Doha is another step in the right direction, but we still have a long road ahead. The door to stay below two degrees remains barely open. The science shows it; the data proves it,” said Figueres.

During the meeting, the United States made no new commitments on carbon emissions or climate aid European Union Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said Sunday that the U.S. negotiators were "careful not to block" the negotiations, adding that it's "still difficult to know whether they will actually invest political capital in committing to a new international deal."

In an emailed comment to the Associated Press (News - Alert), Hedegaard said she hopes Obama "will present not only an enhanced domestic climate policy but also an enhanced U.S. engagement and willingness to commit more in an international climate context."

Speaking on his return from the Doha talks, UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey commented, “"This round of international climate change talks was a modest step forward. We always knew they would be very tough after the breakthrough at the same conference in Durban last year. We can be pleased that we have maintained the momentum toward a new, legally binding agreement for 2020 after the Kyoto Protocol has expired. However, we still need countries to do more and be more ambitious about reducing their emissions,  if we are going to avoid irreversible climate change and prevent devastating global warming. The UK, as part of the EU, will be working very hard over the next year to ensure next year’s talks yield even more progress and that we play our part in lowering global emissions."




Edited by Rich Steeves

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