Governments have spent five weeks of intense negotiations since the conclusion of the 2011 UN Climate Conference, meeting in Germany, Thailand and Qatar. After a long and chaotic final day of conference, delegates finally adopted the main outcome of the COP18 in Doha. This Doha Gateway Package is composed of five elements: the outcomes of the three negotiations tracks related to further commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, to long term cooperative action and to the Durban Platform. In addition, two decisions were addressing long term finance and the loss and damage.
Our team shares below its first take on what the Doha Gateway Package means in various national context…
Brazil – Nathália Clark
Brazil came to Doha with a very clear mission: to ensure the extension of the Kyoto Protocol. As the main goal, they did a good job by not allowing countries such as Russia, Poland and Ukraine to carry over more seven billion tons of CO2 as a carbon credit for the second period of the commitment. This was certainly a good result. On the other hand, under the Long-term Cooperative Action (LCA), the expected results were not achieved. The Brazilian delegation expected to see the same willingness to resolve the issues on the other side of the table, the side of developed countries. Issues such as technology transfer, fulfill goals and leadership got far away from the outcomes. For Brazil, the lack of ambition and lack of support to developing nations is undeniable and unacceptable.
Pakistan – Farrukh Zaman
The current texts can be defined in just two words: “will talk”. What parties here in Doha have agreed upon is nothing more than just how will they pick up the discussion next time. Everything in the texts is vague and lacks clarity. There aren’t any concrete decisions on adaptation, finance and loss and damage, few of the issues that Pakistan has been focusing on this year. The only thing that emerged out of Doha climate talks in favor of Pakistan is a possible funding window for National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), which will allow developing countries to access funds through the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) to develop adaptive capacity to deal with the impacts of climate change. After Durban, not much was left for the developing countries to bargain with, hence, we can only anticipate a lousy outcome from COP18.
India – Pujarini Sen
India has one foot in the door with COP18. The most crucial focus was to ensure that the principles of the Convention, i.e., equity, common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities would be a basis for future negotiations. This has been secured after being left out of the purview in recent years. No small victory for India. But then again these are just words. In terms of deliverables, India was disappointed. No finance on the table, and central concerns regarding intellectual property rights vis-a-vis clean technology, concerns about unilateral decisions from the developed world (a-la-EU and ETS) remained largely sidelined.
In coming years India will have to push these forward, while continuing to defend the cause of equity at the talks. They have accepted the texts for now, asserting that they will continue to work with it as long as it is “not violated in spirit or letter”, a clear indication of battle lines drawn for India. Back home we’ll have to continue to battle awareness lacuna, lack of political will/priority and focus on keeping our targets and doing our best to adopt a clean, sustainable climate resilient development path. This along with the diminishing influence of fossil fuel industries would give India a far more credible voice at the talks.
A REGIONAL PERSPECTIVE
Bahrain – Tariq Al-Olaimy
Coming into COP18, the focus was understandably on Qatar as a negotiating country, as well as a presidency.
As a negotiating country, Qatar joined Bahrain, Saudi and UAE in submitting informal plans to present actions aimed at economic diversification with co-benefits related to mitigation, adaptation, and response measures. Gulf countries very much viewed the negotiations as an economic and political process, rather than an environmental process, and therefore expressed reservations in submitting binding pledges directly within the UNFCCC. The prospect of Gulf countries such as Bahrain asking money from the EU on adaptation wasn’t politically viable, for example, so they can view it as a success in taking a step forward, without having to undermine regional politics.
However, the overall outcome Doha gateway package is not in line with what is required scientifically in terms of reaching a less than 2 degrees increase in temperature. During COP18, there were numerous new studies presented on the vulnerability of the Gulf region to climate extremes, and the lack of ambition and finance on mitigation coming from developed countries will be a cause for concern.
As a COP presidency, much will be written and assessed on the leadership in the days and weeks to come. In the end, the president had to deal with universally unhappy countries, who also universally wanted to reach an agreement. The President forced through the entire Doha gateway in a rapid 30 second gavel, despite obvious objections, and one thinks that if that action wasn’t taken, we may have been writing this post in 2 days time.
Saudi Arabia – Munira Abdelkader
COP18 was held in a country member of OPEC and in The Gulf region for the first time. This country which has the highest carbon emissions in the world, hosted what was supposed to be an alarming drill on climate change. Well, the highlight of the COP was the extension of Kyoto Protocol, the only existing and binding agreement under which developed countries committed to cutting greenhouse gases emissions. We got to stay optimistic! But how can you be when the main outcome of the Cop is the extension of an existing agreement!!!
“We are depending on oil and on the same time we will keep on introducing new technologies on renewable energy” Says the Saudi Chief Negotiator. But many questions might arise on the mechanism of shifting on renewable sources when 80% of the Saudi revenues depend on oil. I guess the dilemma will continue but listening to the sense of reality we must admit that such big issues need more than two weeks of negotiations, more than two weeks to understand the challenges facing us and surely more than a COP to solve.
Australia – Chris Wright
What we got?
Well, when it comes to Australia, we pretty much got away with everything we wanted. While I was just informed by a delegate from G77 that “Australia was one of the more flexible parties at this COP“, we still left Doha with an embarrassing Kyoto Pledge, and an empty financial promise. As we currently stand, we have locked in an emissions reduction pledge of only 0.5% based on 1990 levels. And we have put no money on the table for next year. So when you ask me what we might be happy with…the lack of ambition and commitment might be one, but it’s certainly not something I am proud of.
What we lost?
Well, we didn’t win all the battles. On REDD+ and “loss and damage” it seems that our middle power tactics couldn’t break through some stiff opposition. On REDD+ we were really hoping to come out with an internationally agreed verification regime, but Brazil kicked our butts on that one – preferring for domestic verification systems only. And on Loss and Damage, it seems that some pressure from Civil society and AOSIS has pushed the issue far closer to the limelight than we would have wanted. Basically, we don’t want to have to pay for the impacts we might be contributing to, especially in Pacific Island States…but it seems we’re one step closer to that…unfortunately?
United States – Nikki Hogdson
As COP18 rolls to a close, the U.S. delegation looks at ease after securing a climate deal that requires no increased ambition, no financial pledges, and only voluntary guidelines on loss and damages. Operating under the constrictions of a stalled Congress and a mandate that shies away from anything impinging on national sovereignty, the U.S. negotiators pushed for weak language focused on vague deliverables rather than specific targets. The U.S. negotiating team succeeded in achieving a text that has no mid-term target for finance, no scaling up of public finance, and offers no workplan on equity.
The U.S. also succeeded in stalling much-needed loss and damage mechanisms, expressing concern about the unlimited costs associated with such a measure. Citing a struggling economy and political gridlock at home, the U.S. sidestepped all efforts to get it to commit to specific financial pledges or increase ambition beyond the 17% reduction commitment made in 2009.
The Doha Climate Gateway allows the U.S. to continue to play lip service to climate action without taking strong steps to act on equity, ambition, and finance. While the deal contains language that could potentially open up to more concrete action, it requires nothing new of the U.S. and is a frustrating continuation of the “too little, too late” mandate the U.S. employs at home and abroad.
Poland – Artur Wieczorek
During the COP 18 Poland was under strong international pressure. But it was also a tough player and gave some hard times to EU Climate Commissioner, Connie Hedegaard. Polish stance on the transfer of AAU surplus was greatly opposed by environmental organizations from the first days of COP 18 – many actions were undertaken to exercise pressure on Poland, but polish minister of Environment, Marcin Korolec, remained calm and confident. Not until late afternoon on December 8th, almost 24 hours after the conference was scheduled to end, agreement on AUUs issue has been finally reached within the EU.
Key issue for Poland was the transfer of surplus of unused CO2 emissions (AAUs) from first to second KP commitment period. Although this surplus does not come from mitigation efforts, but are result of transforming from communist to capitalist economy, Poland strongly opposed forfeiting it and insisted on full carryover. The final compromise allows Poland to keep its surplus, but makes it to a large extend unsellable – all the potential buyers have already declared they have no intention of buying them. However, the surplus will be also transferred to post-2020 commitment period, and Poland already declares it hopes to sell the surplus then.
The real challenge lies ahead of Poland – as a host of COP 19 it will have to prove its organizational skills and commitment to fight the climate change. But the true challenge lies ahead of environmental NGOs from Poland and Europe – getting the message across and convincing polish government to raise its ambition will be a hard task. Poland’s intention is not to raise its ambition, but to keep the status quo and ensure polish economic interests are protected. Polish environment minister, Marcin Korolec, is very frank about it and speaks openly in various interviews in polish media: „We have applied to host COP 19, so that we could have better negotiating position and have more ability to convince Europe to our ideas”.
EU – Sébastien Duyck
Europe came in Doha in a very specific state of mind. While the regional block had been perceived by many as one of the key player ensuring a positive outcome in Durban – creating a “coalition of the willing” together with most vulnerable countries – very few expected Europe to hold such a high moral ground. Over the past year, Europe had repeatedly failed, due to internal challenges, to raise the ambition of its mitigation policy. In addition, the European Union announced a few weeks ago that it had already achieved its 2020 target for emissions reduction. On the one hand, this announcement was welcomed as a proof of the success of the EU own climate policies. On other hand, it highlighted the inadequacy of the EU current target for 2020 since this objective does not require any additional action from the continent.
This contradiction was emphasized all along the conference, with the EU being the only major player remaining in the Kyoto Protocol (together with Australia) but failing on many other elements where its leadership could have made a difference. In terms of what the Doha Gateway has to offer to the EU, the package mainly set in stone at an international level obligations that the EU already had adopted domestically. The Gateway also provides homework for Europe to follow up upon. In the coming few years, Europe will need to review its mitigation ambition and to identify additional sources of innovative funding for climate action. The package has however done little to set the path to a successful global deal in 2015. With two of the three upcoming climate conference taking place in the EU (Warsaw and Paris), Europe will bear a particular responsibility in the fate of the process and can no longer afford annual conferences that deliver so little substantial decisions.