Monday, December 10, 2012

UN Puts Positive Spin On "Doha Deal"; But Others Doubt

Dec 8: Amid last minute, through the night negotiations and confusion, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is saying that the Countries have successfully launched a new commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol; agreed to a firm timetable to adopt a universal climate agreement by 2015; and agreed a path to raise necessary ambition to respond to climate change. They also endorsed the completion of new institutions and agreed ways and means to deliver scaled-up climate finance and technology to developing countries.
    Despite the positive spin from UNFCCC, they fail to mention the some major parties like Russia, Canada and Japan have withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol which will further weaken the international climate change agreement. Some 35 industrialized nations including Australia, the European Union nations, Ukraine, Switzerland and Norway are under the agreement to cut their emissions. The United States has never ratified the agreement and the major emitters of China and India are developing countries and not part of the agreement to cut emissions. Many environmental organizations like Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) are describing the COP18/CMP8, "Doha Deal" with words like "modest," "minimal," and "the best we can hope for." Others, like Greenpeace were much more negative and "condemned politicians. . . following the failure of the UN Climate talks in Doha. While they agreed to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, it was judged so full of loopholes as to have little or no effect on carbon emissions." Also, in the U.S. with media outlets consumed with coverage of the "fiscal cliff" issue, there was hardly any recognition that the Doha climate change conference was taking place.
    The COP President Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah of Qatar said, "Doha has opened up a new gateway to bigger ambition and to greater action -- the Doha Climate Gateway. Qatar is proud to have been able to bring governments here to achieve this historic task. I thank all governments and ministers for their work to achieve this success. Now governments must move quickly through the Doha Climate Gateway to push forward with the solutions to climate change."

    The UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, called on countries to swiftly implement what has been agreed in Doha so that the world can stay below the internationally agreed maximum two degrees Celsius temperature rise. She said, "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. The UN Climate Change negotiations must now focus on the concrete ways and means to accelerate action and ambition. The world has the money and technology to stay below two degrees. After Doha, it is a matter of scale, speed, determination and sticking to the timetable." 

    UNFCCC said that in Doha, governments also successfully concluded work under the Convention that began in Bali in 2007 and ensured that remaining elements of this work will be continued under the UN Climate Change process. The next major UN Climate Change Conference -- COP19/ CMP9 -- will take place in Warsaw, Poland, at the end of 2013. UNFCCC itemized four major accomplishments from the COP18/CMP8 meeting as follows:

  • (1) Amendment & Continuation of the Kyoto Protocol: The Kyoto Protocol, as the only existing and binding agreement under which developed countries commit to cutting greenhouse gases, has been amended so that it will continue as of January 1, 2013; the length of the second commitment period will be 8 years; legal requirements will allow a smooth continuation of the Protocol; valuable accounting rules of the protocol have been preserved; countries that are taking on further commitments under the Kyoto Protocol have agreed to review their emission reduction commitments at the latest by 2014; the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Joint Implementation (JI) and International Emissions Trading (IET) will continue; and 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 of the Kyoto Protocol.
  • (2) Time table for the 2015 global Agreement: Governments have agreed to speedily work toward a universal climate change agreement covering all countries from 2020, to be adopted by 2015, and to find ways to scale up efforts before 2020 beyond the existing pledges to curb emissions so that the world can stay below the agreed maximum 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise. 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 ambition. Elements of a negotiating text are to be available no later than the end of 2014. World leaders will be convened in 2014 to mobilize the political will to help ensure the 2015 deadline is met.
  • (3) Completion of New Infrastructure: Governments significantly advanced the completion of new infrastructure to channel technology and finance to developing nations and move toward the full implementation of this infrastructure and support. Most importantly, they have: 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. Governments also confirmed a UNEP-led consortium as host of the Climate Technology Center (CTC), for an initial term of five years. The CTC, along with its associated Network, is the implementing arm of the UNFCCCs Technology Mechanism. Governments have also agreed the constitution of the CTC advisory board.
  • 4) Long-term Climate Finance: Developed countries have reiterated their commitment to deliver on promises to continue long- term climate finance support to developing nations, with a view to mobilizing $100 billion USD both for adaptation and mitigation by 2020. The agreement also encourages developed countries to increase efforts to provide finance between 2013-15 at least to the average annual level with which they provided funds during the 2010-2012 fast-start finance period. This is to ensure there is no gap in continued finance support while efforts are otherwise scaled up. Germany, the UK, France, Denmark, Sweden and the EU Commission announced concrete finance pledges in Doha for the period up to 2015, totaling approximately $6 billion USD.
    Other key outcomes identified by UNFCCC include: a review the long-term temperature goal; identify adaptive capacities, institutional arrangements and ways to implement National Adaptation Plans for least developed countries; support of developing country action; further elaborate the new market-based mechanism; measurement of deforestation and fighting deforestation; integrate Carbon Capture and Storage into Clean Development Mechanism; development and transfer of technologies that can help developing countries adapt and curb their emissions; and avoiding potentially negative consequences of climate action (e.g.negative economic or social consequences).
    Access a lengthy release from UNFCCC with further details (click here). Access a release and link to further information from Greenpeace (click here). Access a release from EDF (click here). Access a release and link to more information from NRDC (click here). Access the Negotiations Update website (click here). Access the UNFCCC COP18 website for complete information including agenda, documents, statements, and much more (click here). Access on-demand webcasts including briefings and statements from individual countries and organizations (click here). Access daily reporting from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) (click here). Access the U.S. Department of State COP18 website (click here). [#Climate]
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