Deciphering the Doha Outcome
In a dramatic twist, the Doha climate talks came to an abrupt end a little more than 24 hours after their scheduled conclusion. Many participants were surprised to see the talks come to a close switfly as Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah, the Qatari President of the talks, gaveled in one decision after another in rapid succession. There was an odd sense of relief, not because of enthusiasm for the decisions reached, but because there were outcomes at all.
Throughout the talks, US NGOs and the international community pressed the United States to come to the table with a better negotiating stance. Although the US was generally seen as obstructionist, there was a small shift by lead negotiator Todd Stern, who stated a willingness to discuss how to equitably share responsibility among countries for making the substantial post-2020 emissions reductions and laid out the need for more work for the US to meet its 17% emissions pledge.
Reactions from US and international NGOs indicated that the urgency of the concluding spectacle was clearly not reflected in the decisions themselves, although minimally they did lay a path for a way forward. Here are some excerpts:
“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 Environmental Defense Fund’s International Climate Program Director Jennifer Haverkamp.
“In an effort to close the negotiations, Parties have stripped the substance from the outcome,” said Niranjali Amerasinghe, CIEL’s Climate Change Program Director. “This was the moment for developed countries, particularly the United States, to show leadership, to fulfill their obligations to lead the fight against climate change. And they have not.”
“Instead of moving aggressively to increase the ambition of actions to reduce emissions and ramp up climate finance for developing country actions, all too many countries dithered and delayed in Doha,” said Alden Meyer, Director of Strategy and Policy for Union of Concerned Scientists. “The United States and many other developed countries spent most of their time and energy laying out what they couldn’t do, rather than offering constructive solutions on these issues.”
Jake Schmidt of Natural Resources Defense Council, International Climate Policy Director, said, “Countries have begun rolling up their sleeves to enact new standards and policies that will lay the foundation for even greater carbon pollution reductions. These efforts will be supported by the progress made at the climate negotiations, but real progress will only occur if we win the fights in the capitals, boardrooms, and courtrooms of the key countries.”
Analyses thus far have deemed the decisions anywhere between a dismal failure and a modest outcome, but the consensus is that conclusions were clearly not sufficient for what the science is telling us is needed to address the worst impacts of human-induced climate change.
The Doha Gateway decisions included (summary from Climate Action Network-International):
• An extraordinarily weak outcome on climate finance which fails to put any money on the table or to ensure a pathway to the $100 billion a year by 2020 target. The decision asks for submissions from governments on long term finance pathways, calls for public funds for adaptation but does not mention a figure, and encourages developed countries to maintain funding at existing levels dependent on their economies.
• An eight-year second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol with loopholes that allow carry over, use and trading of “hot air” (Assigned Amount Units, or AAUs);
• A call–though not an official ambition ratchet mechanism–for Kyoto Protocol countries to review their emissions reduction target in line with the 25-40% range by 2014 at the latest. While it could have been stronger, the decision reinforces clear moral obligation for countries to increase their emission reduction targets prior to 2020 and provides opportunities for them to do so.
• An agreed work program on loss and damage to help victims of climate change will start immediately and a decision “to establish institutional arrangement, such as an international mechanism, at COP19”;
• Developed countries failed to agree a methodology to account for their carbon in a comparable way.
For more resources from members and allies, please see the links below and check out USCAN’s Doha Climate Talks page.
• Negotiators Spew More Hot Air at Climate Summit in Doha; Outcome is Nowhere Near What is Needed to Meet 2°C Target, Union of Concerned Scientists Press Release, 12.7.12
• Global Warming Negotiations in Doha End with a Focus on Action at Home, Natural Resources Defense Council Press Release, 12.8.12
• Analysis of Doha Gateway Outcome, Climate Action Tracker (Climate Analytics) Update, 12.8.12
• Doha Climate Talks Eke Out Modest Deal on Kyoto, New 2015 Agreement, and Climate Loss, but Consideration of Many Issues Postponed to Next Year, Environmental Defense Fund Press Release, 12.8.12
• At Doha Climate Talks: Failed Ambition and Unfulfilled Promises, Center for International Environmental Law Press Release, 12.8.12
• No Oasis for Climate in Doha Desert, Climate Action Network Press Release, 12.8.12
• US receives Five “Fossil of the Day” Awards, CAN International
• Another Disappointing Climate Meeting Draws to a Close, Mother Jones Article, 12.8.12
• Doha Climate Negotiations Fail the Planet and World’s Poor, ActionAid International Press Release, 12.8.12
• UN Climate Talks Fail to Tackle Planetary Emergency, CARE International Press Release, 12.8.12
• Climate Change Wins, the Poorest Bite Doha’s Dust, CIDSE Press Release, 12.8.12
• Action Highlights Divergence between Values and Reality at COP18 Climate Conference in Doha, SustainUS Press Release, 12.8.12