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Preparations ahead of the Doha climate change talks


Preparations ahead of the Doha climate change talks

Willemien Viljoen, tralac Researcher, discusses preparations for the Doha climate change talks

The 18th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP18) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 8th session of the Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP8) will take place from 26 November to 7 December 2012 in Doha, Qatar. In preparation for these climate change talks a Pre-COP18 Ministerial meeting is taking place on 22 and 23 October in Seoul, Korea under the theme ‘Meet the challenge, make the change – moving forward with a balanced perspective.’ The pre-COP meeting is a high level meeting to lay the foundation for the negotiations in Doha and discuss ways to push the climate change negotiations forward.

In her opening address of the pre-COP meeting, Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC highlighted the achievements of previous climate talks and the expectations for the Doha climate change negotiations (full opening statement is available at this link). The previous rounds of climate change talks in Cancun and Durban have resulted in two major achievements:

  • Mitigation pledges by developed, developing and least-developed countries that cover approximately 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions; and

  • The creation of global infrastructure to address various issues associated with the impact of climate change, including the establishment of the Green Climate Fund, a work programme on long-term finance and the Adoption and Standing Committees.

These commitments have now created the opportunity for countries to commit to the full implementation of the global infrastructure at the COP18/CMP8 climate talks. The Executive Secretary highlighted some of the expected outcomes from the Doha talks:

  • The implementation of a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol as of 1 January 2013;

  • A decision on how commitments of financial support to developing and least-developed countries will be implemented; and

  • Commitments for improved cooperation among governments, the private sector and civil society.

In his address of the pre-COP meeting the President of COP18, His Excellency Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah stated that the successful completion of negotiations on a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is expected to be one of the major outcomes of the Doha Conference. According to al-Attiyah the facilitation of climate change programmes and strengthening the implementation of mitigation and adaptation actions are critical for the Doha climate talks. Key institutions and processes have been established by previous negotiations, including the Climate Technology Centre. Now the challenge for COP18/CMP8 is to make these institutions and mechanisms fully operational to ensure adequate support for climate change action in developing and least-developed countries.

Recently the BASIC Group of countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) also met in Brasilia to discuss their common negotiating position for the COP18/CMP8 climate change talks (final communiqué of the meeting available at this link). Countries that also attended the meeting under the BASIC-Plus approach include Barbados, Algeria, Qatar and Argentina. At the conclusion of the meeting the common negotiating position can be formulated as the following:

  • A key deliverable of the Doha talks is a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol from 1 January 2013 until the end of 2020 by which time a new global regime will come into force.

  • The Durban Package of the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA) needs to be concluded at the Doha talks. This will require substantive work on certain unresolved issues under the Bali Action Plan, including equity, intellectual property rights and unilateral trade measures.

  • Arrangements between the Conference of the Parties and the Green Climate Fund need to be concluded to ensure the Fund works under the authority and guidance of the Conference of the Parties.

  • Developed countries need to improve on their emission reduction commitments. So far emission reduction commitments are far below what is required according to science to reduce developed countries’ emissions by 25 to 40 percent by 2020 compared to their 1990 levels.

  • Developed countries need to fulfil their obligations of financial, technological and capacity-building support to allow developing countries to come forward with national mitigation actions.

  • Although there is a difference of opinion on certain aspects of the EU Emission Trading Scheme, the countries reiterated their opposition to include aviation in the cap-and-trade system with India and China strongly opposed to this measure.

Although climate change negotiations in Cancun and Durban have been successful in obtaining emission reduction commitments from various countries and creating global mechanisms to address the impact of climate change in developing and least-developed countries, a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol is still a remaining issue. The first commitment period ends at the end of the year without any other binding agreement to replace it. This means that the Doha negotiations is the last chance for countries to extend the functioning of the Protocol which are creating the expectation that the Doha negotiations will result in a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol as of 1 January 2013.



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