Yesterday Friday 7th of December 2012 was supposed to have been the closing day of COP18. It’s 5:02pm on Saturday, and the COP session to approve the final outcome has still not commenced.
In a brief stocktaking plenary this morning, new texts were released for all three working groups. Since all three working groups closed last night, with issues outstanding in each one, the new texts will go straight to the Conference of Parties (COP), the final authority to accept or reject, directly.
However all three texts are disappointingly weak. The main asks here at Doha: a strong second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, finance pledges especially for the mid-term, an equitable outcome which takes historical responsibility into account by breathing life into loss and damage – nothing has been delivered in these texts.
In the Long Term Cooperative Action (LCA) track, many disagreements remain. Nothing substantial on shared vision or adaptation. The US has not changed their stance on loss and damage. This mechanism would require developed nations to aid the climate change induced losses and damages induced by developing countries. While the text does explore ways to support and meet the needs of developing countries facing loss and damage, including insurance, there is concern about whether or not the US will continue to block, as they did till as late as last night. Even in the text, an international mechanism is not binding, decision has been postponed till 2013.
Additionally there has been no mid-term finance pledge. The text only calls to “increase efforts” – which is disappointing and unfair for developing countries, especially those like the AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States) and LDCs (Least Developed Countries). Just one day ago the frustration had reached a crescendo when in the LCA closing session Philippines negotiator Naderev ‘Yeb’ Sano broke down and made an impassioned plea:
“I ask of all of us here, if not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?”
Philippines was hit by Typhoon Bopha during COP18, just 3days back, and the toll of dead and missing is still rising. But negotiators from the developed world don’t seem to be listening. While US tries to raise $60bn domestically to deal with damages caused by hurricane Sandy, they continue to evade responsibility for losses faced by poor countries beyond their shores.
Under the Kyoto Protocol too there is abysmal lack of ambition. Revisions were made to AAU carry overs and carbon trading rules in this morning’s text. But this along with very low mitigation pledges from EU and Australia, and no commitment from other countries, over all renders the current KP text weak and ineffective.
Last evening at the closing of the Durban Platform work group the new track into which all issues are set to shift from this year, US blocked the word “action” (dropping it from ”commitments and action”) from entering the text. They didn’t want anything from the Bali Action Plan to be part of this new platform. China commented bemusedly, “Does that mean we can’t use any English words from the Bali Action Plan?”
The US even objected to references from Rio20+ which took place earlier this year. Eventually parties decided on the term”enhanced action.” The text has also been forwarded to the COP for approval.
Hopes are being pinned on progress in 2014 when UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon will convene a finance and mitigation pledging conference with heads of states after the IPCC report release due that year.
Here at Doha so far: there is no ambition, no money and no equity.
It remains to be seen if parties reopen the text for debate, accept it or reject it altogether.
About the authorPujarini Sen
Currently working as Advocacy Manager at Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group, New Delhi, an organisation working with research, policy and sustaining livelihoods around all things waste. An English graduate, first became engaged with environmental issues working on a short project with the children in the Sunderban delta area. Wants to study more, this time about climate change and related issues.