What To Expect In Doha: An Overview of This Year’s UN Climate Change Negotiations
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Many analyses warn that there is a gap between the total emissions reductions from parties’ pledges under the Copenhagen Accord and where we need to be to meet the 2C goal by 2020. The current framework allows for parties to start where they are and assess progress to see what must be done to meet the 2C goal. These pledges, along with agreements on transparency, technology, forestry, and finance were enshrined in Cancun during the 2010 UN climate conference. Parties agreed to report on progress of their unilateral commitments and the following year in Durban, countries agreed to regular regional reviews beginning in 2013. Work on how to overcome this gap will now move to the new track under the Durban Platform.
More importantly on the LCA track will be the successful transfer of work streams from the LCA to other tracks and implementation of institutions previously agreed to in Copenhagen and Cancun. Most important of these is the newly created Clean Technology Center and Network and the Green Climate Fund. Both fulfill the promise made in 2007 in Bali that developed countries should help developing countries to more quickly transition to a low-carbon economy by providing access to clean energy technology and finance.
The financial commitments made as part of the LCA track negotiations is perhaps the most critical at this point. Parties agreed to targets for climate finance in 2009 of $30 billion in “fast start finance” from 2010 to 2012, and the creation of a global fund that can help mobilize the bulk of a commitment to $100 billion annually in public and private funds by 2020. Developing countries will be most concerned in Doha that a funding gap does not develop between 2012 and 2020. We have argued that a ramp up of funding toward this $100 billion goal is needed throughout this decade both in order to leverage emissions reductions in developing countries, where we will see the largest rise in greenhouse gas emissions, and to increase the capacity for private investment which can benefit all parties. And because approximately one-fifth of the emission reduction programs submitted by developing countries to the Cancun Agreements are contingent on financial and technical support, they will not happen without global support for making them happen.
These issues and others in the LCA track are not easily resolved. Progress made in the LCA on REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation), technology, and finance and ongoing work streams must continue elsewhere, whether it be the Ad-hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) or subsidiary bodies of the convention. The outcomes of the Kyoto Protocol and ADP depend in part on how smoothly the work of the LCA transitions or concludes.
Defining a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol
The Kyoto Protocol discussions (KP) will focus on the conditions that developed and developing country parties can agree to on the extension of the KP for a second period which would end in 2020 at the latest. The Kyoto Protocol sets binding emissions targets for developed countries that sign onto it, but developing countries are not obliged to make reductions. The US did not sign onto the KP for this reason. The 1997 Byrd-Hagel Resolution said the Senate would not consider a climate treaty that divided the world between the responsibilities of developed and developing countries. So far, the only major developed parties to agree to a second commitment period are the EU, Australia and Switzerland.
There are a range of issues here on the exact length of the extension, what new commitments for reductions developed countries will agree to, what level of ratification each party will agree to, and whether the Clean Development Mechanism (see below) should be open to any developed countries that signs on to the KP or only to those who articulate an official QUELRO (quantified emission limitation and reduction objective) by the end of the second commitment period.