The “Doha Climate Gateway”
Willemien Viljoen, tralac Researcher, discusses the “Doha Climate Gateway”
The 18th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 18) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 8th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 8) took place between 26 November and 8 December 2012 in Doha, Qatar and concluded with a set of decisions called the “Doha Climate Gateway.” The decision documents include a number of major achievements, including the extension of the Kyoto Protocol for a second commitment period from 2013 to 2020 and the agreement on a work programme for negotiating a new global climate agreement by 2015 to be implemented at the end of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (all the decisions are available here).
a) Kyoto Protocol Amendments
The Kyoto Protocol is the only legally binding international agreement on the issue of climate change and originally set binding targets for 37 industrialised countries and the European Union for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) to an average of five percent compared to 1990 levels over the five year period between 2008 and 2012. The Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan in 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005 and the first commitment period was set to expire at the end of 2012.
In Doha the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol adopted an Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol that will see a second commitment period from 2013 to 2020 with binding targets that amount to a reduction in GHGs to an average of 18 percent below 1990 levels over the eight year period (the decision is available here). Although the second commitment period of the Protocol legally binds some industrialised nations and the European Union to reduce their GHGs, this covers only approximately 15 percent of global emissions due to Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Russia opting out of the second commitment period. On 15 December 2011 Canada notified the Depositary of its withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol which came into effect on 15 December 2012; Japan indicated that it will not be under any obligation for a second commitment period of the Protocol; New Zealand remains a Party to the Protocol, but did not indicate a binding emissions reduction target for the eight year period; and Russia indicated that it will not assume a quantitative emission limitation or reduction commitment for the second commitment period.
Annex A of the Kyoto Protocol contains the list of GHGs to be reduced over the commitment period. This list was also amended in Doha to include Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) from the beginning of 2013. Nitrogen trifluoride is a gas used mainly in the production of electronic devices, including thin-film solar cells. It is the third most potent GHG and has now been included in the Kyoto-recognised GHGs due to the severe increase in its production over the last 20 years, from approximately 100 tonnes per year in 1990 to 8000 tonnes per year in 2010.
b) Work programme for a new climate change agreement by 2020
The Parties have agreed to increase efforts to establish a new legally binding global climate change agreement that will cover all countries, including emerging economies, small island states and developing and least developed countries to be adopted by 2015 that will come into effect at the end of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol at the end of 2020. The new capacity building work programme for vulnerably economies will serve as a platform to close the gap between developed and non-developed economies to include developing and least developed countries in the new global climate change agreement.
c) Capacity building
The Conference of the Parties has agreed to develop a new work programme to enhance capacity building efforts in the economies most vulnerable to the impact of climate change. These new capacity building efforts will include climate change education, training and the creation of public awareness and a platform for participation in the decision-making process.
d) Long-term climate finance
Developed countries have reiterated their commitment for continued long-term financing for developing countries and to mobilise US$ 100 billion for adaptation and mitigation by 2020. Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Sweden and the European Commission made financial pledges to the amount of US$ 6 billion for the period up to 2015.
e) Loss and damage due to climate change
The Conference of the Parties recognised the need for cooperation and expertise to understand and reduce loss and damage suffered due to the impact of climate change, including the impacts associated with extreme weather events. The Parties also acknowledged the need for improved financial, technological and capacity-building support to address the issues of loss and damage and decided to establish an international mechanism to address loss and damage in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change at COP 19 taking place in Warsaw, Poland at the end of the year.
Although COP 18 and CMP 8 have led to some key outcomes, critics state that the Doha conference made little progress in advancing international negotiations on climate change, failed to set ambitious targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and secured only vague assurances for pledges towards climate change adaptation and technology transfer. Although there have been limited advances in funds for financing adaptation and mitigation, some African countries have indicated satisfaction with the following outcomes:
The formal extension of the Kyoto Protocol with the continuation of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Joint Implementation (JI) and International Emissions Trading (IET).
The agreement to develop a “compensation’’-type mechanism to address loss and damage suffered by vulnerable economies due to climate change.
The development of a new work programme for capacity building.
The agreement to assess the green technology needs of developing countries.