(DOHA/ WASHINGTON – Nov. 26, 2012) Parties gathering in Doha, Qatar for the latest United Nations climate conference (COP-18) could achieve some measured progress on key issues, including launching new negotiations for a global climate agreement, developing new climate finance incentives, and reducing deforestation emissions, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) said as the talks opened today.
The countries now meeting in Doha are scheduled to finalize a second round of commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement to cut greenhouse gases, and wrap up the Long-term Cooperative Action (LCA) negotiating track, which was launched in Bali in 2007 and led many countries to make voluntary emission reduction pledges but fell short of a comprehensive binding agreement. Doha will also set the course for the “Durban Platform for Enhanced Action” track, whose goal is a new climate agreement for all countries to be agreed to by 2015 and to take effect from 2020.
“Countries can make real progress in Doha by agreeing to the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period with minimal fuss and delay, and concluding the Long-term Cooperative Action track, so they can turn their full attention to bringing lessons learned and key policy tools from those agreements forward into the new negotiations,” said EDF’s International Climate Program Director Jennifer Haverkamp.
“Even the U.S. founding fathers didn’t get the Constitution right the first time – remember the Articles of Confederation? Countries, in constructing this new agreement, have a chance to incorporate the key elements of these tracks: Kyoto’s binding structure and accountability, and the LCA’s broadened participation among countries and new tools to fight climate change,” said Haverkamp.
For climate finance, countries in Doha should deliver clear signals of ambitious commitment to address climate change, a much-needed policy signal that will help unlock and target critical climate finance funds that exist right now in the stock and bond markets and in countries’ national public expenditures. For policies for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), countries have the opportunity to agree that multiple sources of finance can be used to pay for REDD+ reductions, and thereby send another positive signal to tropical forest nations.
Outside the UN negotiations, countries and states have been busy launching and benefiting from emissions reductions programs. Even just since last year’s negotiations, Australia’s carbon price has gone into effect, Korea and Mexico have passed domestic climate legislation, China is moving forward with emissions trading pilot programs, and Europe’s Emissions Trading System, which has achieved significant emissions reductions at minimal cost, is about to transition to its third phase.
“A full quarter of the world’s economy – from California to China, Mexico to South Korea – has or is putting in place programs to reduce emissions,” said Haverkamp. “The top-down UN process is still critical to stopping dangerous climate change, but more and more countries are deciding not to wait around for it to tell them what to do. We’re already in a bottom-up world.”
In the United States, California begins its state-wide cap-and-trade system on January 1, and the northeastern states’ regional cap-and-trade system (RGGI) is already cutting emissions while their regional per capita GDP is growing faster than the nation as a whole. And a new report shows that the U.S. is on track to reduce its emissions by more than 16 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, thanks in part to these states’ initiatives.