Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban were all seminal COPs for
different reasons. Copenhagen struggled to get off the ground, such
was the weight of unfulfilled anticipation that it should lead to
an all bells and whistles post-2012 climate agreement. In its
aftermath, it was up to Cancun to save the climate negotiations
process and the role of the United Nations in international climate
policy. Partly due to some well choreographed applause, Cancun
provided the Copenhagen Accord with a more politically acceptable
veneer, and paved the way for big issues to be resolved at
Durban Platform for Enhanced Action
The much heralded outcome of the Durban negotiations last year
was a two-page COP decision titled "Establishment of an Ad Hoc
Working Group (AWG) on the Durban Platform for Enhanced
Action". This decision launches a "process to develop a
protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal
force under the Convention applicable to all Parties, through a
subsidiary body under the Convention hereby established and to be
known as the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for
Enhanced Action." This new AWG "shall complete its work
as early as possible but no later than 2015 in order to adopt this
protocol, legal instrument or agreed outcome with legal force at
the twenty-first session of the [COP in 2015] and for it to come
into effect and be implemented from 2020".
Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative
The second important outcome of Durban was the adoption of a
non-decision text ultimately compiled as the snappily named
"Outcome of the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term
Cooperative Action under the Convention". The mandate of this
working group was extended by one year "in order for it to
continue its work and reach the agreed outcome pursuant to the Bali
Action Plan through decisions adopted by the sixteenth, seventeenth
and eighteenth sessions of the Conference of the Parties." The
AWG-LCA is intended to terminate at Doha. It may certainly be time
for this AWG to be put to bed.
A key output from Kyoto Protocol discussions in Durban was
agreement among certain countries (including Canada and Russia)
that there would be a second commitment period under the Kyoto
Protocol, beginning in 2013 and the withdrawal of other countries
from the Kyoto Protocol. However, despite the symbolic nature of
this outcome, fundamental issues remain to be resolved. These
include the length of the commitment period, the nature of any
commitments taken under the Protocol, and the legal status of any
It would seem that discussions under the Durban Platform for
Enhanced Action will face many challenges in yielding concrete
action at Doha. We expect a work plan and organisational issues to
be resolved at best. The post-2020 regime has effectively been
kicked into the long grass with financing in the intervening period
being a key and critical issue.
Green Climate Fund (GCF) and Climate Technology Centre
and Network (CTCN)
Many parties are keen for the AWG-LCA to get wrapped up. Its
contribution will be to encapsulate a number of non-binding climate
pledges and US lead developments in the form of non-decisions.
However, AWG-LCA discussions have paved the way for a number of
important factors such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and Climate
Technology Centre and Network (CTCN). Expect developments in
respect of these entities at Doha. All eyes are on the private
sector facility forming part of the GCF and its governance.
A singular commitment
Whether or not the terms of a second Kyoto Protocol Commitment
Period will be agreed at Doha remains to be seen. For those
dwindling number of countries that would participate meaningfully,
it will be an unfulfilling experience. "CP2" will not be
counterbalanced by any legally binding commitments on the part of
developing countries (even wealthy ones). Targets are unlikely to
be consistent with climate science. Further, CP2 has been abandoned
by most of the Umbrella Group including New Zealand, Canada, Russia
and Japan. The EU and Australia, who recently agreed to jump into a
common emissions trading bed together, will be blazing a lonely
trail down the aisle.
We anticipate that little of what comes out of Doha will lift
the fog of policy uncertainty that currently ensnares the EU and
other global emissions trading scheme(s). Most CDM projects not
registered by the end of this year face an uncertain and less than
optimistic future. Perhaps a glimmer of hope will be offered by
discussions of new market mechanisms and the private sector
facility of the GCF, which may eventually help to unlock some of
the much needed private investment into climate change mitigation
on a larger and more scalable basis.
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