The discussions continued on Wednesday 28 November 2012 against the backdrop of protests by the Youth Group, demonstrating for an increase in the parties’ ambitions.
The Doha Conference: Day Three
Yesterday saw the second meeting of the Conference of the Parties ("COP") and of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol ("CMP"). Discussions also continued from Tuesday’s KP, LCA and DP working group meetings in numerous contact groups, informal consultations and other meetings on the side-lines.
However, yesterday was one of those days familiar to regular attendees, where much was said, little was done and after the novelty and enthusiasm of the first two days, grim reality set in.
The frustrating nature of the day’s proceedings was perhaps most starkly illustrated by debate in the AWG-LCA meeting, where much of the discussion was taken up in heated debate as to whether the informal overview text tabled by the group’s Chair, Mr Tayeb, was even capable of being used as the basis for negotiations.
Views were polarised and broadly divided along developing vs developed world lines. The Umbrella Group (Canada, Japan, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Norway, the Russian Federation and the U.S.), backed up by the EU, Switzerland and others stated forcefully that the text had not been requested, was flawed both procedurally and substantively and suggested that the Chair might perhaps benefit from the appointment of co-facilitators. China, Pakistan, India, Iran and others on the other hand warmly welcomed the text whilst repeating complaints about the level of fast-start funding provided by Annex 1 countries and demands for firm commitments to fill the finance gap between now and 2020. No substantive progress was made.
The AWG-DP also spent some time in debating procedural matters (contact groups vs roundtables vs informal plenaries etc.). There was much discussion from non-Annex 1 countries of the application of Convention principles (in particular, common but differentiated responsibility) to the new international agreement targeted for 2015, with non-Annex 1 countries pushing for their commitments to be flexible, prioritising adaptation not just mitigation and reflective of their national circumstances. India especially reminded delegates that climate change is only one of numerous "priorities" for developing nations. New Zealand, whilst accepting this view point, favoured a base level commitment agreed by all parties, which could be adjusted for specific countries if necessary. In a clear negotiating stance, there was, again, much emphasis placed by developing countries on the fact that the Durban Platform was part of a "balanced" package dependent also on satisfactory outcomes to the AWG-KP and AWG-LCA work streams.
The AWG-KP continued the theme of discussions from Tuesday, with further restatement of positions on the key issues of the length of the commitment period, the carry-over of assigned amount units and access to the flexible mechanisms. It is becoming particularly clear that on these issues, as predicted in our introductory report, no real progress will occur until the closing hours of the conference.
The Clean Development Mechanism ("CDM") Executive Board reported various "successes", but noted a continuing need for certainty in order to motivate private sector investment. This sentiment resonated with multiple parties requesting a simpler, more transparent and accountable system which ensured environmental integrity. The Chair of the Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee had a more difficult time, reporting troubled waters and a need for reforms if the Joint Implementation Mechanism ("JI") scheme is to survive. The suggested reforms (including a single "optimised" track, devolution of powers to register projects to host countries and a new governing body for the scheme) met with far from universal agreement.
The Day Ahead
Today sees further contact group meetings, informal consultations, workshops and other meetings of the Convention and Protocol bodies. The COP and CMP will continue to discuss the issues noted above, as will each of the Ad Hoc Working Groups.
The long-term viability of the CDM and JI continued to be a key theme in the discussions, but in truth the talks are, as is to be expected at this early stage, somewhat stalled at present with the parties largely just restating their prior positions. Indeed, to some extent overall expectations were lowered with China indicating that there probably aren’t any new promises for aid or cuts in greenhouse gases on the horizon, and Connie Hedegaard, the EU Climate Commissioner, announcing in Brussels yesterday that a roadmap outlining future climate financing "will not be doable in Doha". Experience suggests progress will pick up only as the end of the conference draws nearer.