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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 11th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Quote of the day

Climate change was predicted to arrive tomorrow but it is happening today. For this reason, the moment for climate justice has arrived.

Edward Cameron, World Resources Institute and Tara Shine, Mary Robinson Foundation.

SOUTHNEWS
No. 20,         10 December 2012
SOUTHNEWS is a service of the South Centre to provide information and news on topical issues from a South perspective.
Visit the South Centre’s website: www.southcentre.org.

Green thinking takes root in midst of desert in Doha climate talks

Are oil-rich Gulf states, once a byword for waste and excess, really now leading the world on sustainable development?

COP18 Doha : Qatar environmental policy , partnership with the Potsdam Institute

The signing of a partnership between the Qatar Foundation and the Postdam Institute for a new climate change research institute in Qatar. (Photograph: IISD)

One of the great surprises for the 15,000 negotiators and others here in Doha for the climate talks is not the breakneck speed of development in the gas-rich emirate, or the displays of wealth and the giant construction projects, but the possible dawn of reality.

Until recently, the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states were the epicentre of unsustainable global development, a byword for waste, excess and ecological irresponsibility. Their huge consumption of natural resources and flouting of nature on the back of oil and gas production shocked even hard-nosed observers of global oil wealth.

Well, we may have to change our views. From my hotel window, I can see 14 monster buildings being built, each to a much higher energy standard than the law demands in the US or most of Europe. Down the road is a new $70m (£43m) test-bed for carbon capture, the beginnings of a 200 megawatt solar power station, a $1bn photovoltaic manufacturing plant, new waste treatment plants, a pilot project to grow food in the desert with saltwater, and a fledgling construction industry with waste plastic.

Green baubles for the super-rich perhaps, but there is evidence that a real change of thinking is taking place. Schools, local authorities and mosques are now teaching about water and energy saving, and Gulf state governments are committing themselves to deeper cuts in emissions than the US or much of Europe.

Britain hopes to generate 20% of its electricity with renewables by 2030. But the Qataris will do that by 2020. Britain, with a population of more than 60 million, built about 100,000 new homes last year. Qatar, with 1.4 million people, will build a whole city to the highest green specifications for 200,000 people in not much more time.

And it’s not just Qatar. Other Gulf states are racing each other to rethink their development paths. The renewable energy world is moving to Abu Dhabi. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has invested billions of dollars in projects there, as well as in Europe and north Africa. Even Dubai, which has indulged in a 20-year construction frenzy, is aiming at 7% renewables in 12 years – similar to Belgium. Even more remarkably, Saudi Arabia, fearful of its own escalating domestic electricity needs, will meet one-third of its electricity demand from solar by 2032.

None of this would have been conceivable even a few years ago. So what has changed? One senior adviser to the Qatari government put it like this: “There is a new direction. The GCC countries all move together like a herd. A desperate search is going on to find new ways of doing things. They need to find the answer for when the oil and gas is not there. They have seen the future and now they have fire in their arse.

“But they also know that the Arab spring countries all neglected people during development. They are learning. Education, health and welfare were all neglected. Environment has risen up the agenda. In the past, it was of no interest. Now it is a global necessity. Money is not the problem.”

The thirst for what Qatar, Abu Dhabi and other oil-rich states call a new “knowledge economy” would partly explain why Qatar on Wednesday committed to set up a global climate change centre in Doha with the German Potsdam Institute. It will employ around 200 researchers and sit beside a dozen other prestigious US, British and other academic centres, including Imperial College, which is now at Doha.

The founder of the institute, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, spelled out what was at stake: “Qatar is the only true desert state in the world with no surface water and 500km of flat coastline, where temperatures are already 45C in summer. With sea level rise expected to be up to 90cm by 2100 in the Gulf region and temperatures expected to rise [by] 5-8C, this place will be unlivable [if climate change is not brought under control].”

The Gulf states’ change of direction, he suggested, is being undertaken not out of any desire to be green but sheer pragmatism. What happens here could shape all our futures, says the adviser. “The next stage of modern civilization can be blueprinted here. Qatar can be a role model for the region and the whole planet.”

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Last-minute scramble for climate deal at UN talks

Negotiations continued through the night Thursday at United Nations climate talks in Doha, Qatar, with envoys trying to mesh procedure with political will. A key proposal is the annual delivery of $100 billion in aid by 2020 to pay for projects to cope with the effects of global warming. The lead negotiator from the Philippines, Naderev Saño, broke down in tears in the hall, saying, “I appeal to the whole world, I appeal to leaders from all over the world, to open our eyes to the stark reality that we face. … It cannot be a way of life that we end up running always from storms.”

Above tells us that the location and hosts had no effect on the negotiators that still attempted a North-South wrangle. A waste of time so far as we are concerned.

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he faithful IISD Report titled -

Doha Climate Change Conference Adopts Doha Climate Gateway -

spills out for us to see the best diplomatic slippery beans:

8 December 2012: The UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar, took place from 26 November-8 December 2012, focused on ensuring the implementation of agreements reached at previous conferences. Following two weeks of negotiations, delegates adopted the package of “Doha Climate Gateway” decisions on the evening of Saturday, 8 December. The outcome includes amendments to the Kyoto Protocol to establish its second commitment period.The Doha Climate Change Conference included: the 18th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 18) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); the eighth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 8); the 37th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 37) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 37); the second part of the 17th session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP 17); the second part of the 15th session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the UNFCCC (AWG-LCA 15); and the second part of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP 1).

The DOHA conference drew approximately 9,000 participants, including 4, 356 government officials, 3, 956 representatives of UN bodies and agencies, intergovernmental organizations and civil society organizations, and 683 members of the media. {much lower figures then the above upbeat report}

Having been launched at CMP 1, the AWG-KP terminated its work in Doha. The parties also agreed to terminate the AWG-LCA and negotiations under the Bali Action Plan. Key elements of the outcome also included agreement to consider loss and damage, “such as” an institutional mechanism to address loss and damage in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. Other outcomes of the Conference include the adoption of: a decision on gender and climate change; and the Doha Work Programme on Convention Article 6 (education and awareness raising).

While developing countries and observers expressed disappointment with the lack of ambition in outcomes on Annex I countries’ mitigation and finance, most agreed that the conference had paved the way for a new phase, focusing on the implementation of the outcomes from negotiations under the AWG-KP and AWG-LCA, and advancing negotiations under the ADP.

[IISD RS Coverage of the Conference] [UN Press Release] [UN Secretary-General's Statement on COP 18] [UNFCCC Press Release]

For IISD FULL REPORT - please see - mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?shva=1…

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FOLLOWED BY THE UNUSUAL SHORT AND VERY MISLEADING UNSG BAN KI-MOON PRESS RELEASE THAT IN A FEW LINES DECLARES THE SECRETARIAT”S BANKRUPTCY  IN ALL MATTERS OF CLIMATE CHANGE.

10 December 2012

THE UNITED NATIONS
Secretary-GeneralSG/SM/14708
ENV/DEV/1333

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General Welcomes Doha Climate Change Conference Outcome, But Stresses Need for Accelerated Action to Limit Rise in Global Temperature.

SO WE ASK – WHAT DID THE MEETING ACTUALLY ACHIEVE? DIPLOMACY ASIDE _ WHO PAID AND WHO GAINED FROM THIS MIGRATION OF CLOSE TO 10,000 PEOPLE TO THE ISLAND OF QATAR, IN A CORNER OF THE SAUDI PENINSULA OF THE GREAT ARAB DESERT?

The following statement was issued on 8 December by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

The Secretary-General welcomes the outcome of the United Nations Climate Change Conference that concluded today in Doha, and he congratulates Qatar for a job well done in hosting the Conference.

Doha successfully concluded the previous round of climate negotiations, paving the way to a comprehensive, legally binding agreement by 2015.

The Secretary-General believes that far more needs to be done and he calls on Governments, along with businesses, civil society and citizens, to accelerate action on the ground so that the global temperature rise can be limited to 2° C.

He said he will increase his personal involvement in efforts to raise ambition, scale-up climate financing and engage world leaders as we now move towards the global agreement in 2015.
* *** *

Will the UN Secretary General show now rhe decency to cancel the 2013 – 2014 meetings and advise the Member States to act in quiet diplomacy in preparations for a 2015 outcome?

Meeting before 2015 like the Cancun, Durban and Doha meetings – the last three yearly meetings that came after the Copenhagen COP 15 of the UNFCCC of 2009 – were nothing more then large exercises in migration that enhanced income from tourism in the host countries. Our own website has stopped listing the meetings after the Copenhagen meeting and we preferred to call them Copenhagen +1, Copenhagen +2, And now for Doha we reserved Copenhagen +3. That was because the last real step in the UNFCCC evolution happened on the way to Copenhagen when President Obama went first to Beijing and managed for the first time to get China to declare that they are indeed part of these negotiations. China then brought in India, Brazil, South Africa as well.


We are afraid that if nothing is done before the 2013 Warsaw meeting that meeting will be a waste as well. What has to happen is that the Obama II Administration steps forward with direct proposals to the other major emitters – specifically – China, India and Brazil – with or without South Africa – and seals direct agreements with them that can then become the base for multilateral negotiations. Indeed, there is no reason why one must have all nations on board.

In the past it was mainly the oil States of the Middle East that were the hindrance to an agreement – this even before one could tackle the large emerging emitters and the United States. Perhaps the Doha meeting provided the needed Climate Change education to the oil States, and thus a strong decision of President Obama and rolling over the climate deniers of the Republican oil-Lobby, could return the issue to multilateral diplomacy.

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Kyoto Protocol extended in climate compromise.

Is the title of the UN Foundation’s UN WIRE of December 10, 2012.

Delegates at the United Nations climate talks that ended Saturday in Doha, Qatar, agreed to extend the Kyoto Protocol through 2020 and create a road map by 2015 to replace the pact. The world’s governments remained divided over who should pay the costs for helping the most vulnerable countries cope with the effects of climate change through 2020, when industrial nations are slated to contribute $100 billion annually from public and private sources.         Reuters (12/9), The New York Times (12/8), IRINNews.org (12/9)

THE REUTERS REPORTS  FROM DOHA ARE AS FOLLOWS:

Despair after climate conference, but UN still offers hope

Sunday, December  9, 2012 final report:

* U.N. process has to accelerate before 2015

* Many leave Doha conference in despair

By Barbara Lewis and Alister Doyle

DOHA, Dec 9 (Reuters) – At the end of another lavishly-funded U.N. conference that yielded no progress on curbing greenhouse emissions, many of those most concerned about climate change are close to despair.

As thousands of delegates checked out of their air-conditioned hotel rooms in Doha to board their jets for home, some asked whether the U.N. system even made matters worse by providing cover for leaders to take no meaningful action.

Supporters say the U.N. process is still the only framework for global action. The United Nations also plays an essential role as the “central bank” for carbon trading schemes, such as the one set up by the European Union.

But unless rich and poor countries can inject urgency into their negotiations, they are heading for a diplomatic fiasco in 2015 – their next deadline for a new global deal.

“Much much more is needed if we are to save this process from being simply a process for the sake of process, a process that simply provides for talk and no action, a process that locks in the death of our nations, our people, and our children,” said Kieren Keke, foreign minister of Nauru, who fears his Pacific island state could become uninhabitable.

The conference held in Qatar – the country that produces the largest per-capita volume of greenhouse gases in the world – agreed to extend the emissions-limiting Kyoto Protocol, which would have run out within weeks.

But Canada, Russia and Japan – where the protocol was signed 15 years ago – all abandoned the agreement. The United States never ratified it in the first place, and it excludes developing countries where emissions are growing most quickly.

Delegates flew home from Doha without securing a single new pledge to cut pollution from a major emitter.

So far, U.N. climate talks have missed just about every deadline. The rich nations of the world promised two decades ago to halt their rise in greenhouse gases. They failed. Next, they promised a sequel to Kyoto by 2009. They failed again.

Now they have a 2015 deadline to get a new global, binding deal in place, to enter into force after the extension of Kyoto expires in 2020. For the first time, it would apply to rich and poor countries alike. But with the world’s nations divided over who must pay the cost, the task of reaching accord seems beyond the capabilities of the vast corps of international delegates.

Meanwhile, the world’s weather is only getting more unstable. As the Doha talks dragged on, Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines left nearly 1,000 people dead or missing.

Hurricane Sandy last month was a reminder that even rich countries are not safe from extreme weather, which scientists say will become ever more common as the world heats up.

PROGRESS AT GROUND LEVEL

A series of reports released during the Doha talks said the world faced the prospect of 4 degrees Celsius (7.2F) of warming, rather than the 2 degree (3.6F) limit that nations adopted in 2010 as a maximum to avoid dangerous changes.

// BUT UN SERETARY GENERAL BAN KI_MOON STILL DREAMS AT A 2degrees LIMIT?!//

According to the World Bank, that would mean food and water shortages, habitats wiped out, coastal communities wrecked by rising seas, deserts spreading, and droughts both more frequent and severe. Most impact would be borne by the world’s poorest.

“The alarm bells are going off all over the place,” Alden Meyer, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said. “We are in a crisis and treating it like a process where we can dither away for ever.”

Action at ground level has had a positive impact, even as the U.N. dithers. Investment in carbon-free renewable energy hit a record $260 billion in 2011.

In the United States, the discovery of techniques to produce natural gas from shale has cut the cost of gas, which has reduced emissions from the world’s biggest polluter by replacing coal, a bigger carbon emitter, for power generation.

But although U.S. emissions – nearly a quarter of the world’s total – have fallen, for the world as a whole this year they are expected to rise by 2.6 percent, up by 58 percent since 1990. Emerging economies led by China and India account for most of the growth.

Although frustrated by days and nights of haggling, ministers still back the United Nations as part of the solution.

“It’s clear to me that this process is the only global framework we have and since this is a global problem, it has to be addressed globally,” Denmark’s Energy Minister Martin Lidegaard told Reuters.

“But obviously, this can’t stand alone. Nations can’t continue to hide behind the process. There’s a direct link between what we deliver at home and here. We desperately need to combine action by regions, municipalities, citizens with this global approach. That is becoming more and more evident.”

Negotiators say ultimately politicians – distracted by other events – need to become engaged.

“It (the environment) is no longer on the front page with the political and financial crisis. That is the reason why heads of state have to turn to this,” the European Union’s chief negotiator Artur Runge-Metzger said.

CONVERTS

The conference is an easy target for cynics – not least because it was held in Qatar, a desert kingdom that exports carbon-producing fossil fuel and uses the proceeds to fund a lavish lifestyle for many of its 2.5 million people.

A country that burns fuel to desalinate water and build golf courses in the desert seems like an odd place to talk about curtailing consumption. But supporters say bringing producers like Qatar into the consensus for change is a step forward.

Business leaders are also getting involved.

“A lot of CEOs from the region have turned up. A lot of them are talking about sustainability and resource efficiency. That’s no longer a dirty word,” said Russel Mills, global director for energy and climate policy at Dow Chemical Co.

Dow, like many other big industrial firms, keeps a close eye on U.N. carbon policy because of the United Nations’ role as “a kind of central bank” for pollution allowances.

The most developed carbon trading scheme is the European Union’s, which has lurched from crisis to crisis. The value of EU Emissions Trading Scheme permits sank to a record low this month under the burden of surplus allowances during a recession.

But other jurisdictions such as Australia, California, South Korea and even China believe they can learn from Europe’s mistakes and are developing their own emissions trading. Such schemes could be the planet’s best hope of survival, and the United Nations is likely to play a role.

“Economy-wide carbon pricing, whether carbon taxes or cap and trade, is the only approach that can conceivably achieve the targets scientists advocate,” Robert Stavins, a professor of business and government at Harvard in the United States, said.

“Also, it will be most the cost-effective and therefore in the long run the most politically-viable approach.”

Still, even with the best of intentions, U.N. diplomats are unlikely ever to deliver change at the pace scientists seek.

“Science is demanding immediate and drastic action,” Christiana Figueres, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, told Reuters. “Policy, economics and financing cannot move in drastic fashion.”

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and the IRIN NEWS  Report:

IRIN – standing for Integrated Regional Information Networks – has its head office in Nairobi, Kenya, with regional desks in Nairobi, Johannesburg, Dakar, Dubai and Bangkok, covering some 70 countries. The bureaus are supported by a network of local correspondents, an increasing rarity in mainstream newsgathering today.

CLIMATE CHANGE: Snapshot of wins and losses at the Doha talks.

Talks in Doha at the futuristic Qatar National Convention Centre dragged on overtime

JOHANNESBURG, 9 December 2012 (IRIN) – Like last year’s UN climate change talks, this year’s conference in Doha culminated in an all-night session to hammer out a deal on preventing further global warming and protecting people from the effects of climate change. While some promising compromises were made, the absence of a strong commitment to slash greenhouse gas emissions and help vulnerable populations adapt to climate change was evident in the conference’s 39 decisions.

IRIN provides a snapshot of the three overarching themes of the decisions that came out of the 18th session of the Conference of Parties (COP18) to UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and what these decisions mean for humanitarian actors.

Loss and damage

Tweeting out of the conference, one of Argentina’s negotiators said the decisions don’t feel “ground-breaking” but are “more likely saving face”. “What we got for it, only loss and damage and nothing else”, he said.

''[The] decisions don’t feel ground-breaking but are more likely saving face. What we got for it, only loss and damage and nothing else''

Poor countries, including small island states and the least developed countries, were looking for a decision to create an international mechanism to address losses and damages caused by climate change. The mechanism would open the door to possible compensation from affluent countries for poor countries facing the mounting costs of extreme climate events. It would consider both their economic and non-economic losses, and possibly explore technological interventions.

In the end, they had to settle for the possibility of this happening in the COP19 talks taking place in Poland next year. Still, the fact that the possibility of such a mechanism was mentioned in the decision at all was considered a breakthrough.

Additionally, a work programme collecting data on loss and damage caused by slow-onset disasters – such as droughts – received an extension. The programme will also consider climate change’s impact on migration patterns and displacement, as well as efforts to reduce risk.

The decisions on loss and damage echoes much of a framework proposed by a group of NGOs earlier in the conference, which had recommended focusing on the international mechanism, the work programme, and consideration of non-economic losses. But ultimately, the decisions are subject to money being made available for development of the work programme.

What it means: With the extension of the work programme, more information on possible policy approaches will be forthcoming. This will help humanitarian organizations better scale-up responses to extreme climate events, which are increasing in frequency and intensity.

But NGOs and the civil society will likely have to wait a long time for affluent countries to make firm commitments on funding, risk transfer mechanisms such as insurance, and technology to help poor countries improve their resilience to climate change. Given that money to help vulnerable populations adapt has been ad hoc and insufficient, there is little optimism for funds being made available for compensation.

Adaptation finance

In 2009, developed countries promised to provide US$30 billion by 2012 to help poor countries adapt to climate change. They also promised to provide $100 billion a year from 2020 onwards.
Developed countries reported in Doha that they had reached the $30 billion target, but this was disputed by academics and civil society.

“It is very difficult to know where that finance went and how,” said scientist Saleemul Huq of the International Institute for Environment and Development. “We need to come up with procedures for monitoring, reporting and verification of these finance figures. We need to agree on some format so that money can be tracked effectively. It hasn’t been tracked previously.”

The developed countries further indicated that, with the global recession, they are unable to make firm commitments to finance poor nations’ efforts to adapt. Instead, a decision was made to set up a work programme in 2013 to help developed countries identify ways to raise this money.

What it means: No global funding pledge has been for the interim period between 2013 and 2020. Individual pledges by five European countries – including the UK, France and Germany – have been made, but cumulatively, these fall far short of the $60 billion that developing countries had requested for the interim.

It is also not clear if the five pledges are specifically for climate change adaptation or if they are part of the Official Development Assistance (ODA) that developed countries provide to the developing world. The UNFCC requires that developed countries provide money for climate change adaptation that is additional to their ODA.

Emission cuts

The good news to emerge from the talks is that the Kyoto Protocol – a global agreement to cut emissions that was set to expire in 2012 – has been extended to 2020.

They also agreed that a roadmap to create a deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol should be ready in 2015.

But meanwhile, there are no firm commitments to take on deeper emissions cuts. And with Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Russia and the US opting out of the Kyoto Protocol, the protocol applies to only 15 percent of current global greenhouse gas emissions.

What it means: Scientific organization, including the UN Environment Programme have warned that failing to further cut emissions could increase global temperatures by over four degrees Celius by the turn of the century. The internationally embraced goal is to limit this warming to two degrees Celsius, but the International Energy Agency has shown that achieving this goal grows more difficult and expensive with every passing year. This means poor countries and aid agencies will have to contend with the possibility of more frequent and intense climatic events and the mounting costs associated with prevention, relief and recovery.

jk/rz

see also -

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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A ‘low ambition’ outcome at Doha climate change conference

By Martin Khor, Executive Director of the South Centre, Doha, 9 December 2012

The annual UN climate conference concluded in Doha last Saturday (8 December) with “low ambition” both in emission cuts by developed countries and funding for developing countries.

Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted many decisions, including on the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period in which developed countries committed to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases.

Many delegates left the conference quite relieved that they had reached agreement after days of wrangling over many issues and an anxious last 24 hours that were so contentious that most people felt a collapse was imminent.

The relief was that the multilateral climate change regime has survived yet again, although there are such deep differences and distrust among developed and developing countries.

The conflict in paradigms between these two groups of countries was very evident throughout the two weeks of the Doha negotiations, and it was only papered over superficially in the final hours to avoid an open failure.  But the differences will surface again when negotiations resume next year.

Avoidance of collapse was a poor measure of success.  In terms of progress towards real actions to tackle the climate change crisis, the Doha conference was another lost opportunity and grossly inadequate.

The conference was held at the end of a year of record extreme events.  News of typhoon in the Philippines which killed 500 and made 300,000 homeless reminded the conference participants of the reality of the climate crisis.

However, the dictates of economic competition and commercial interests unfortunately were of higher priority, especially among developed countries, which explains their low ambition in emission reduction.  They also broke their promises in the legally binding UNFCCC to provide funds and transfer technology to developing countries.

The most important result in Doha was the formal adoption of the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period (2013 to 2020) to follow immediately after the first period expires on 31 December 2012.

However, the elements are weak.  With original Kyoto Protocol Parties Russia, Japan and New Zealand having decided not to join in a second commitment period, and and Canada have left the Protocol altogether, only Europe, Norway, Switzerland, Australia, and a few others (totalling 35 developed countries and countries with economies in transition) are left to make legally binding commitments in the second period.

Also, the emission cuts these countries agreed to commit to are in aggregate only 18% by 2020 below the 1990 level, compared to the 25-40% required to restrict global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius.

A saving factor in the Kyoto Protocol decision is the “ambition mechanism” put in by developing countries, that the countries will “revisit” their original target and increase their commitments by 2014, in line with the aggregate 25-40% reduction goal.

Also, the decision severely limited the amount of credits or surplus allowances that can be used during the second period.  These credits were accumulated in the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period by countries that cut their emissions more than the targeted level.

According to the decision, these countries cannot use or trade most of the surplus allowances as a means to avoid current emission cuts.

The most important country affected is Russia, and on Saturday it strongly objected to the way the President of the Conference, Abdullah Hamad al-Attiyah of Qatar, bulldozed through the Kyoto Protocol decision even though it and two other countries tried to object.

——-

// DO YOU REMEMBER THOSE KYOTO HOT AIR CLOUDS RELEASED BY THE COLLAPSE OF THE ANTIQUATED SOVIET BLOC INDUSTRY?//

Just look at what happened at Doha – here something we heartily applaud:

The final “wrangling” took place in the closing plenary on Saturday afternoon between those wanting to limit the use of excess AAUs to ensure the “environmental integrity” of the emission reduction commitments put forward and those arguing that “overachievement” of commitments should not be punished by a limitation in the use of AAUs. Russia, Ukraine and Belarus attempted to block the adoption of the AWG-KP outcome during the CMP closing plenary, but the nimble COP President gaveled its adoption before appearing to notice Russia’s raised flag. A round of applause welcomed the adoption of the decision, which limits the amount of surplus AAUs that can be used and provides that only parties taking on second commitment period QELRCs can use them. Russia objected to what he said was a breach of procedure by the President, while the COP President responded he would do no more than reflect his view in the final report. This action on the part of the COP President brought back echoes of the events of Cancun when Bolivia’s objections to the adoption of the Cancun Agreement were overruled/ignored in much the same way. It also made many wonder whether this was becoming a trend in the climate negotiations; as many have repeated, consensus does not mean the right of one party to block progress.

The information comes from the IISD final analysis – www.iisd.ca/climate/cop18/enb/

NOW – IF THIS KILLED SOME HOT-AIR BALLOONS – POWER TO QATAR – WE LOVE THEM.

——-

A second major criticism of the Doha decisions is the lack of funds to be provided to developing countries to take climate actions.

In 2010, the Conference of Parties in Cancun decided that developed countries would mobilize climate finance of US$100 billion a year starting in 2020; and that US$30 billion of fast track finance would be given in 2010-2012.

But there is a gap between 2013 and 2020.  Despite the demand by developing countries that there be US$60 billion by 2015, the decision adopted on Saturday does not specify any number as a commitment.  It only “encourages” countries to provide at least as much as they had in the 2010-2012 period.

The lack of a credible finance commitment led to an outcry by developing countries on the plenary floor.  This lack of funds curtails their ability to undertake actions to combat climate change, especially since they have agreed in the 2010 Cancun and 2011 Durban Conferences to take on more mitigation efforts.

The Doha conference also adopted a set of decisions under its working group on long-term cooperative action under the UNFCCC.  The developing countries were pleased with paragraphs on equity, unilateral trade measures, technology assessment and a vague reference to the effects of intellectual property.

However these decisions were very weak.  Even then the United States registered its disagreement or reservations to these decisions, after the adoption of the text, giving a foretaste of how they will continue to object to future discussions on these issues.

A positive decision made in Doha was to prepare for the setting up by next year’s Conference of an “international mechanism”  to help developing countries deal with loss and damage caused by climate change. This also resulted from intense negotiations.

Activities meanwhile will include an expert meeting and preparing technical papers on this issue.  Developing countries hope that this programme will lead to new funds being channelled to those countries suffering from flooding, drought, sea level rise and other forms of damage linked to climate change.

The Doha conference also adopted a work plan for the new working group on the Durban Platform that was set up in December 2011.  There were major fights in Doha over this, with many  developing countries insisting that mention be made that the Durban Platform will operate on the basis of equity and common and differentiated responsibilities (CBDR), the operating principle of the UNFCCC.

The final text did not mention this principle, and even the reference to the June 2012 Rio Plus 20 Summit which endorsed the equity and CBDR principle was removed at the insistence of the United States.

What remained in the text was a reference that the Durban Platform’s work will be guided by the principles of the Convention.  Even then, the United States in the final plenary placed a reservation that they reject the use of this phrase in the negotiations in the Durban Platform group. (The phrase is in the 2011 decision that established the working group – after the United States rejected any reference to explicit inclusion of “equity” or “CBDR” the final compromise was “under the Convention”.)

This reveals how much lacking in the spirit of international cooperation that the United States and some other developed countries have become.

They are no longer willing to assist the developing countries, and incredibly are even objecting to the principles of the Convention being applied to negotiations to set up a new agreement that will be under the Convention.

More than anything else, this shows the tragic paradox of the Doha conference. It succeeded in adopting many decisions and kept the functioning of the multilateral climate regime alive, but the actual substance of actions to save the planet from climate change was absent, as was a genuine commitment to support the developing countries.

Author: Marin Khor is Executive Director of the South Centre. Contact: director@southcentre.org.

An earlier version of this article was published in The Star of 10 December 2012.

To view other articles in SouthNews, please click here.
For more information, please contact Vicente Paolo Yu of the South Centre:
Email yu@southcentre.org, or telephone +41 22 791 80 50.
The list of the Climate Change Convention Conferences of the Parties held todate:
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