(DOHA/ WASHINGTON – Dec. 8, 2012) After another marathon negotiating session, countries at the UN climate talks in Doha managed to scrape together minimal progress on its scope of work and agreed to begin addressing the hardships that climate change is already inflicting on the most vulnerable countries, but left a number of lingering issues unresolved, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) said at the conclusion of the talks Saturday evening.
Working through long nights, delegates ultimately agreed to a three-part deal: i) a second round of emission reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol; ii) the close of the “LCA” negotiating track, which — since launched in Bali in 2007 — has led many countries to make voluntary emission reduction pledges; and iii) a course for negotiating the “Durban Platform for Enhanced Action” (ADP), a new climate deal for all countries to be agreed by 2015 and to take effect in 2020.
“With the unfinished business of the Kyoto Protocol and the Bali agenda finally behind them, countries can now face forward and concentrate on crafting the robust new agreement that we so urgently need,” said EDF’s International Climate Program Director Jennifer Haverkamp.
As predicted, a large sticking point across the negotiations was climate finance. Seeking firm commitments and clarifications of how financing would scale up between now and the $100 billion a year by 2020, as they were promised in Copenhagen, developing countries instead got a workplan and reassurances. The talks’ modest outcome also failed to send the policy signal needed to unlock critical private investments in climate change.
“Not until we get clarity on how all countries will participate in reducing emissions, and on the legal structure of the agreement and its institutions, will we see substantial funds flowing to address climate change, both inside and out of the UN process. Doha barely began to answer some of those questions,” said Haverkamp.
Countries also agreed to establish a process to address “loss and damage” resulting from climate change. Haverkamp says it indicates the UN’s recognition that the severe consequences of climate change have become today’s problem, no longer one of the distant future.
“This is the next step in the UN’s increasingly reactive response to climate change. First the focus was on avoiding emissions. When mitigation efforts proved inadequate, it turned more attention to adaptation. Now, as the effects of extreme weather and rising oceans hit communities from the Philippines to New Jersey, the UN has realized it must begin to grapple with the damaging effects of climate change it had been mostly trying to avoid,” said Haverkamp.
Doha’s outcome also reinforces the importance of continuing to make climate progress at the domestic and local levels. During the Doha talks, the Dominican Republic announced its commitments to reduce its carbon emissions 25% by 2030 from 2010 levels, and Belarus announced a domestic carbon market that will start in 2014.
“While more and deeper cuts are needed around the world, we’re seeing real action via national and state-wide climate programs in Europe, Australia, California, South Korea, China and others. It is domestic efforts like these, in tandem with multilateral accords and initiatives, that will get us to a secure climate future,” said Haverkamp.