December 10, 2012

Doha Briefs: Of Apples, Mangoes and Gateway


Finally, COP18 has come to an end; but then, the reactions on the outcome, dubbed Doha Climate Gateway, have been mixed.  But then, let us sort through the apples and mangoes by looking into the nitty gritties of the Doha Climate Gateway.

Hot Air

The issue of renewing the commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol has been one of the main interests in the build up to COP18. The issue of surplus carbon emission permits, commonly referred to as ‘hot air’, was bound to determine the outcome of talks geared towards getting a second commitment period (CP2). It is important to note that the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period will run out at the end of this year. Australia, EU, Japan, Lichtenstein, Monaco and Switzerland agreed to drop their ‘hot air’ and enter CP2 on a clean slate.

The Kyoto Protocol Mechanisms (Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Joint Implementation(JI) and the International Emissions Trading (IET)) will be available during CP2, but only for parties who have committed.

However, there are those who are convinced that CP2 pledges are quite weak, and will not be sufficient to realize the goal of lowering Green House Gas emissions.

Increasing Ambition

If there is a phrase that has been pounded into the ears of negotiators at COP18, then it most definitely is ‘increase ambition’. There have been concerns that Parties have not demonstrated sufficient ambition commensurate with the challenge presented by climate change. However, they made a few bold steps by agreeing on a timetable for a universal climate change agreement that would cover all the Parties by 2020; it is to be adopted in 2015.

Still, some of the major emitters of Green House Gases such as Japan and New Zealand have refused to commit to CP2, raising serious concerns as to whether they are really committed to ct down on their emissions.

New kids on the block

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTC) are the new kids on the block with regards to UNFCCC infrastructure aimed at addressing finance and technology issues. Korea was chosen as the host of GCF; a UNEP-led consortium will host the CTC.

However, it is important to note that lack of commitment by developed countries to fund the GCF is a dark cloud hanging over its successful operationalization, and this issue has yet to be solved.

All about the money

Money matters have been at the center stage in COP18, and this had to do with fast-start finance. There was a tussle between developed and developing countries, with the latter accusing the former of misleading reports on new fast-start finance funds. Developing countries were pushing for the establishment of a transparent accounting mechanism that would make a clear distinction between new and old funds under fast-start finance, as well as determining whether the funds are loans or grants. At the end of COP18, governments agreed to start a work programme for 2013. Also, Germany, UK, France, Denmark, Sweden and the EU Commission committed US$6 billion until 2015.

Loss and Damage

Hurricane Sandy was the centrepiece in the discussions on loss and damage, whose principle is: developed countries should pay developing countries that suffer from disasters related to climate change. There was drama on the last week of negotiations when the US threatened to veto the final draft text that would have laid the foundation for an international mechanism to deal with loss and damage due to climate change. The US opined that the costs related to loss and damage would be exponential; they were advised by other voices of reason to focus more on moderating the mechanism, rather than sounding its death knell.

Capacity Building

This was one of the key issues during the negotiations, and a new work programme was agreed upon in order to build capacity through climate change education as well as enhancing public participation in climate change decision-making.

Conclusion

Well, a number of things were achieved, but there are persistent concerns that ambition to tackle climate change should be renewed and increased. All in all, it is upon each and every one of us to contribute and give our best towards addressing climate change, which is undoubtedly the defining challenge of the 21st century.

Note: You can check out the official press release by UNFCCC for a detailed outcome of COP18.

Compiled by: Kennedy Liti Mbeva

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