What is being called the “Doha Climate Gateway,” more formerly the 18th Conference of the Parties (COP18) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), wrapped up this past weekend in Doha. It was the first conference of the parties to take place in the Middle East and, according to the Earth Negotiations Bulletin of the venerable IISD, the conference drew around nine thousand folks, including 4,356 government officials, 3,956 representatives of UN bodies and agencies, intergovernmental organizations and civil society organizations, and 683 members of the media.
The negotiations in Doha were focused, never meant to create any big breakthroughs, but they nevertheless produced some tangible results:
- The Kyoto Protocol, set to expire at the end of the month, was extended to the end of 2020, with commitments for considerable reductions of greenhouse gases from 1990 levels – in many cases 20 to 30% – by the EU, Australia, Norway and some other developed countries. (The US was never a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, and the Japanese, Russians and Canadians have withdrawn.)
- A commitment by all the parties to the Convention to work toward a new agreement, to come into force after 2020, and to be fully negotiated by 2015, in which all countries, developed and developing, will be required to make cuts in their GHGs.
- Pledges on new financing for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries amounting to $6 billion with more expected soon.
- A recognition of the need for the better-advantaged economies to compensate others for “loss and damage.” (As Fiona Harvey notes here at The Guardian, “Poor countries have won historic recognition of the plight they face from the ravages of climate change…”)
- A new emphasis on short-lived greenhouse gases because making radical cuts in these will have a profound effect on slowing down the rate of warming. The Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants was begun early this year with Hillary Clinton and the US State Department taking a leading role.
There has been slow and steady progress since Copenhagen three years ago. The next three years are going to be arduous though, bringing all the developing nations, plus big developed economies like the US, Canada, Russia and Japan fully on board. Greenhouse gases are surging from the rapidly emerging economies, led by China, but they’re not going to get at their own deadly emissions until the old economies become more fully committed.
For my money, I think President Obama is going to significantly up the ante from the White House on this issue. Not incidentally, since Susan Rice appears DOA as the next Secretary of State, it might be just fine to have John Kerry. He’s a proven warrior on climate change.
To return to the Doha talks, here’s UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres at the closing press briefing: