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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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Securing accomplishments of the LCA

Still, the successful closing the LCA ensures that the accomplishments of the LCA will live on and continue as a basis for international collaboration on climate change.

For instance, the LCA advanced a work stream to develop methodology practices for avoiding emissions from deforestation that will be built upon in a new work program.  This program will be coordinated with and supported by the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation.  A body of work to enhance transparency, accountability, and credibility for quantifying and verifying emissions reductions will be taken up.

But most importantly, the LCA gave birth to the 2009 Copenhagen Accord and the 2010  Cancun Agreements, which marshaled the largest collection of voluntary mitigation commitments the world has yet seen.  The mobilization of these commitments is a groundbreaking achievement of the LCA track.  Whereas the Kyoto Protocol mandates binding emissions reductions from developed countries only, representing an every shrinking percentage of global emissions, under the LCA governments from developed and developing countries representing over 80 percent of global emissions announced measures for reductions up to 2020.  The successful creation of a system for measuring, reporting, and verifying those commitments will be absolutely essential to finishing this decade where we need to be on global mitigation efforts.

Durban Platform

The new track on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) focused on both the timing and substance of the new negotiation track.  The notable  conclusion with regard to the timing is simply that the parties agreed to “immediately proceed with substantive discussions.”  This means that the Durban Platform will be, as it should be, at the heart of the climate negotiations next year in Poland.

The final text reflects the need to “raise the level of ambition” based on the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report.  There is no doubt this new treaty, which will be “applicable to all” (signaling a difference between the new treaty and the Kyoto Protocol), must address the current mitigation ambition gap between now and 2020.  The difference between what countries have offered up in terms of voluntary reductions through the LCA agreements, and the emissions reductions needed to stabilize the climate below 2 degrees Celsius, are significant.  At this point one we are facing an ambition gap, missing one half to one third of the reductions needed by 2020 to keep the door open to eventually stabilizing at global temperature increase at 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels.  And the world has already warmed approximately 1 degree Celsius from human activity, resulting in already perceptible climate related impacts.

The final text of the ADP discussion was divided into two work-streams, one to create the new treaty, and the second to address this widening gap. The first work-stream will accomplish a few things:

  1. Determine focused questions to present to the 2013 roundtables and workshops on the new treaty;
  1. Acquire submissions from all parties with information, views, and proposals on mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer, and capacity-building;
  1. Gather submissions that will form the nuts-and-bolts of the treaty, such as the applicable principles of the Convention, the best practices and lessons learned from other agreements, and the scope, structure, and design of the agreement.

The second work-stream was devoted to developing a work plan on enhancing mitigation ambition, with a particular focus on the rest of this decade. The ADP encouraged parties to present initiatives, proposals, and actions for implementation around reduction of greenhouse gases by the 2013 meeting. These submissions will be geared towards assessing mitigation and adaptation, benefits to action, barriers to implementation — and perhaps most importantly — finance and technology.  Finally, the ADP requested a technical paper from the secretariat on the mitigation benefits of the different proposals from the parties mentioned above.

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