UN climate summit promises ‘gateway’ to future action

Posted at December 11, 2012 » By : » Categories : News » Comments Off on UN climate summit promises ‘gateway’ to future action

The United Nations climate change negotiations (COP18) have ended with a last minute agreement on the ‘Doha Climate Gateway’, which launches a new commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol and sets a timetable for the adoption of a new agreement by 2015.

“Doha has opened up a new gateway to bigger ambition and to greater action – the Doha Climate Gateway,” said COP president Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah in his closing statement. “Now governments must move quickly through the Doha Climate Gateway to push forward with the solutions to climate change.”

One of the crucial agreements is that the Kyoto Protocol, which is due to expire at the end of the year, will see its second commitment period extended for a further eight years.

Those countries that are still abiding by the Protocol, including the EU, Australia and Japan, will have until 2014 to review their current emission reduction commitments and take on further cuts.

Meanwhile, governments have agreed to work towards a universal agreement covering all countries from 2020, which will have to be adopted by 2015.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said there will be a meeting of world leaders in 2014 to ensure that the elements of the text of the agreement are available by the end of 2014 and a draft negotiating test is ready for May 2015.

Despite little actual action, developed countries also reiterated their commitment to providing finance to help developing nations tackle climate change. Germany, the UK, France, Denmark, Sweden and the EU made concrete promises totalling $6 billion up to 2015 – although the long-term pledge is for $100 billion a year by 2020.

A new commitment has been also been added to compensate poorer nations for the “loss and damage” caused by climate change.

The negotiations also confirmed, as expected, the location of South Korea as the location of the Green Climate Fund, which will start operations next year so that it can launch activities in 2014.

UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey says the agreement is a “modest” step forward but it was also going to be very tough after the breakthroughs at last year’s conference in Durban.

“We can be pleased that we have maintained the momentum towards a new legally binding agreement for 2020 after the Kyoto Protocol has expired,” he says. “However, we still need countries to do more and be more ambitious about reducing their emissions if we are going to avoid irreversible climate change and prevent devastating global warming.”

The European Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard, also acknowledged the difficulties of the negotiations.

“In Doha, we have crossed the bridge from the old climate regime to the new system. We are now our way to the 2015 global deal. It was not an easy and comfortable ride. It was not a very fast ride either. But we have managed to cross the bridge.”

But critics expressed disappointment that the summit, hosted by fossil-fuel reliant desert nation Qatar, has ended without a major scaling up of action.

“A weak and dangerously ineffectual agreement is nothing but a polluters charter – it legitimises a do nothing approach whilst creating a mirage that governments are acting in the interests of the planet and its people,” says Friends of the Earth’s head of climate and energy, Asad Rehman.

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Related stories:
UK pledges £1.5 billion to help developing world tackle climate change (5-Dec)
“Antiquated” climate negotiations obstruct agreement, claims research (28-Nov)
Qatar justifies choice as host of UN climate change summit (27-Nov)
Clean energy investment falling short of international promises (27-Nov)

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