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Doha Climate Summit Ends, Did They Manage to Save the World? Here's What You Need to Know

Like last year’s Durban climate summit, three distinct negotiating streams produced three overlapping but independent agreements.

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Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action Closes

The closing of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (LCA) was a critical lynchpin underpinning a successful outcome in Doha.  The LCA, a subsidiary body of the convention, was the principle outcome of the 2007  Bali Action Plan.  In last year’s negotiations in Durban parties agreed to close the LCA in 2012, yet talks in Doha were strained as negotiators struggled to agree on the terms for closing the track and whether and to what extent to include in it new provisions to compensate developing countries for “loss and damage” from climate related events, and whether to stipulate new targets for providing financial assistance for mitigation and adaptation to climate change on the road to the agreed upon goal of mobilizing $100 billion annually for these purposes.

The LCA track did however advance key work plans to achieve the goal of the convention to limit greenhouse gases, including mitigation, adaptation, the development of approaches and policies for Deforestation and Degradation plus pro-forest activities (REDD+), promotion of technology development and transfer, and the elevation of financing of adaptation and mitigation.  A main task of the negotiators was to transfer work streams under the LCA into other bodies of the convention ( such as the Durban Platform) and to put the final touches on the new institutions created over the past four years in the LCA like the Green Climate Fund and the Clean Technology Center and Network.  Failure to do so would risk losing entire work streams and compromise faith in the international negotiations process.

Concluding the LCA, however, was ridden with contention over who should bear responsibility for action on climate change and the degree to which actions should be taken.  Throughout the week inability for negotiators to come to agreement on the LCA derailed progress in the other tracks.  Last Tuesday talks in the Durban Platform track were suspended as negotiators struggled to keep pace with controversies that had erupted in the LCA.

Climate Finance

On Friday morning of the final week there was still a glaring blank page in the draft LCA text in the section on enhancing action on climate finance beyond the 2009-2012 “fast start period,” when developed countries delivered $30 billion to developing countries for adaptation and mitigation.  (The successful delivery of this support was acknowledged in the final LCA text.)  Australian and Nigerian negotiators leading a finance contact group began working in earnest around 10:00 am that morning on a new text but found it rife with brackets, indicating disagreement among the parties on almost every sentence.  But at this point the president was not allowing any more text with brackets—it was take it or leave it.

There were three major components of the finance text that remained fundamentally unsettled: a work program on long-term finance, the whether to stipulate a target for a second period of fast start finance to 2015, ideally larger than the first period, and a report on the Green Climate Fund and initial guidance.

Time running out, the LCA Chair from Saudi Arabia held one-on-one bilateral meetings with ministers to resolve their issues, as diplomats from Switzerland and the Maldives assisted in consultations on finance to remove the brackets to get a final text.

The final outcome document does not include a specific number for a second round of fast start financing, but urges additional developed countries than already have to announce climate finance pledges when “financial circumstances permit” and to at minimum provide resources equal to the “average annual level of the fast-start finance period.”  The work program on long-term finance was extended for another year, “with the aim of informing developed country Parties in their efforts to identify pathways for mobilizing the scaling up of climate finance.”  Countries are to submit plans for scaling-up climate finance from public, private, bilateral and multilateral sources to reach the goal of $100 billion annually by 2020.  A new Standing Committee will create a climate finance forum for exchanging ideas about scaling up climate finance, assess and summarize climate finance flows.  Lastly, parties agreed to a high-level ministerial dialogue to consider a report by the long-term finance work program and discussion on efforts to scale up climate finance by developed countries during the next climate summit in 2013 in Warsaw.

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