The UN climate talks in Doha have closed with a historic shift in principle agreed but with very few genuine cuts in greenhouse gases. The summit has established for the first time that rich nations should move towards compensating poor nations for losses due to climate change, the so called “Loss and Damage” mechanism.
The deal, agreed by nearly 200 nations in Doha, also extends the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol (the only legally-binding plan for combating global warming) to 2020. conference also cleared the way for the Kyoto protocol to be replaced by a new treaty binding all rich and poor nations together by 2015 to tackle climate change.
The final text “encourages” rich nations to mobilise at least $10bn (£6bn) a year up to 2020, when the new global climate agreement is due to kick in.
The proposed new “Loss and Damage” mechanism is being seen as one of the successes of the summit. Up until now rich nations have agreed finance to help developing countries to get clean energy and adapt to climate change, but they have stopped short of accepting responsibility for damage caused by climate change elsewhere. But in Doha that broad principle was agreed.
The results of COP18/CMP8 in more detail are as follows:
1) Amendment of the Kyoto Protocol
The Kyoto Protocol, as the only existing and binding agreement under which developed countries commit to cutting greenhouse gases, has been amended so that it will continue as of 1 January 2013.
- Governments have decided that the length of the second commitment period will be 8 years.
- The legal requirements that will allow a smooth continuation of the Protocol have been agreed.
- The valuable accounting rules of the protocol have been preserved.
- Countries that are taking on further commitments under the Kyoto Protocol have agreed to review their emission reduction commitments at the latest by 2014, with a view to increasing their respective levels of ambition.
- The Kyoto Protocol’s Market Mechanisms – the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Joint Implementation (JI) and International Emissions Trading (IET) – can continue as of 2013.
- Access to the mechanisms will be uninterrupted for all developed countries that have accepted targets for the second commitment period.
- JI will continue to operate, with the agreed technical rules allowing the issuance of credits, once a host country’s emissions target has been formally established.
- Australia, the EU, Japan, Lichtenstein, Monaco and Switzerland have declared that they will not carry over any surplus emissions trading credits (Assigned Amounts) into the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.
2) Time table for the 2015 global climate change agreement and increasing ambition before 2020
- Governments have agreed to speedily work toward a universal climate change agreement covering all countries from 2020, to be adopted by 2015, and to find ways to scale up efforts before 2020 beyond the existing pledges to curb emissions so that the world can stay below the agreed maximum 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise.
- A significant number of meetings and workshops are to be held in 2013 to prepare the new agreement and to explore further ways to raise ambition.
- Governments have agreed to submit to the UN Climate Change Secretariat, by 1 March 2013, information, views and proposals on actions, initiatives and options to enhance ambition.
- Elements of a negotiating text are to be available no later than the end of 2014, so that a draft negotiating text is available before May 2015.
In Doha, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced he would convene world leaders in 2014 to mobilize the political will to help ensure the 2015 deadline is met.
3) Completion of new infrastructure
- In Doha, governments significantly advanced the completion of new infrastructure to channel technology and finance to developing nations and move toward the full implementation of this infrastructure and support. Most importantly, they have:
- Endorsed the selection of the Republic of Korea as the location of the Green Climate Fund and the work plan of the Standing Committee on Finance. The Green Climate Fund is expected to start its work in Sondgo in the second half of 2013, which means that it can launch activC
- Confirmed a UNEP-led consortium as host of the Climate Technology Center (CTC), for an initial term of five years. The CTC, along with its associated Network, is the implementing arm of the UNFCCCs Technology Mechanism. Governments have also agreed the constitution of the CTC advisory board.
4) Long-term climate finance
- Developed countries have reiterated their commitment to deliver on promises to continue long-term climate finance support to developing nations, with a view to mobilizing 100 billion USD both for adaptation and mitigation by 2020.
- The agreement also encourages developed countries to increase efforts to provide finance between 2013-15 at least to the average annual level with which they provided funds during the 2010-2012 fast-start finance period. This is to ensure there is no gap in continued finance support while efforts are otherwise scaled up.
- Governments will continue a work programme on long-term finance during 2013 under two co-chairs to contribute to the on-going efforts to scale up mobilization of climate finance and report to the next COP on pathways to reach that target.
- Germany, the UK, France, Denmark, Sweden and the EU Commission announced concrete finance pledges in Doha for the period up to 2015, totaling approximately 6 billion USD.
Other key outcomes of COP18/CMP8 in Doha
- Governments have launched a robust process to review the long-term temperature goal. This will start in 2013 and conclude by 2015, and is a reality check on the advance of the climate change threat and the possible need to mobilize further action.
- Governments have identified ways to further strengthen the adaptive capacities of the most vulnerable, also through better planning.
- A pathway has been established towards concrete institutional arrangements to provide the most vulnerable populations with better protection against loss and damage caused by slow onset events such as rising sea levels.
- Ways to implement National Adaptation Plans for least developed countries have been agreed, including linking funding and other support
Support of developing country action
- Governments have completed a registry to record developing country mitigation actions that seek recognition or financial support. The registry will be a flexible, dynamic, web-based platform.
- A new work programme to build capacity through climate change education and training, create public awareness and enable the public to participate in climate change decision-making has been agreed in Doha. This is important to create a groundswell of support for embarking on a new climate change regime after 2020
New market mechanisms
- A work programme has been agreed to further elaborate the new market-based mechanism under the UNFCCC, and also sets out possible elements for its operation.
- A work programme to develop a framework for recognizing mechanisms established outside the UNFCCC, such as nationally-administered or bilateral offset programmes, and to consider their role in helping countries to meet their mitigation targets, has also been agreed.
Actions on forests
- In Doha, governments have further clarified ways to measure deforestation, and to ensure that efforts to fight deforestation are supported.
Carbon Capture and Storage
- Governments meeting in Doha have looked at ways to ensure the effectiveness and environmental integrity of projects under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism that capture and store carbon emissions
Development and transfer of technology
- Countries have taken forward work on enabling the development and transfer of technologies that can help developing countries adapt and curb their emissions.
Avoiding negative consequences of climate action
- In some cases, the implementation of actions that reduce emissions could result in negative economic or social consequences for other countries. In Doha, governments discussed measures to address such consequences in a special forum.
Whilst yet again no significant binding agreement has been reached, at the very least Doha lays the foundations for further dialogue towards a binding agreement coming into effect in 2020.