There has been much media coverage of the UN Climate Summit in Doha (COP 18) and the progress towards a global agreement in respect of greenhouse gas emissions reduction which has been termed “modest” by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (“DECC”). Some interim action was agreed as a basis on which to engage in future discussions including the extension of the Kyoto Protocol for 8 years pending a global emissions reduction agreement.   

Actions agreed

These include:-

  • Extension of the Kyoto Protocol (due to expire at the end of 2012) to 2020.
  • A work plan for 2013 to implement the Durban Platform which seeks to establish a new global climate agreement for adoption in 2015, and to identify ways to achieve global emission reductions for 2020 to reduce the gap between current emission pledges and the reductions needed to restrict a global temperature increase to 2°C.
  • New infrastructure progressed to facilitate funding and technology to developing countries.
  • Governments will continue a work programme on long-term climate finance and report at the end of 2013 on pathways to reach that target.
  • Agreement to establish institutional arrangements in respect of loss and damage associated with climate change.

Kyoto Protocol Extension

The “Doha Climate Gateway” extending the Kyoto Protocol until a universal emissions agreement is achieved, was approved with the European Union, Australia, Switzerland, and eight other industrialized nations signing up for binding emissions cuts by 2020. The EU has agreed an emissions reduction commitment consistent with its domestic reduction target of 20% of 1990 levels by 2020 (with flexibility to increase this reduction to 30%). The reduction commitment will be fulfilled jointly by the EU, Croatia and Iceland. The EU will apply the necessary amendments to the Protocol from 1 January 2013 (notwithstanding the need for formal ratification by the European institutions and Member States which shall take some time).

For participants in the second period there will be continued access to the Kyoto mechanisms, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Joint Implementation (JI) and International Emissions Trading (IET), from the start of the period. A limit on purchases of surplus emission budgets ('AAUs') from the first commitment period will apply. Australia, the EU, Japan, Lichtenstein, Monaco and Switzerland have declared that they will not carry over any surplus AAUs into the second commitment period. JI will continue to operate, with the agreed technical rules allowing the issuance of credits, once a host country's emissions target has been formally established.

The reduction targets of participants in the second period will be revisited by 2014. The countries taking part in the extended period account only for 14% of world emissions (Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and Russia not participating in the second period). The USA and China have never been participants.

Work Plans for a global agreement

By 1 March 2013 Governments have agreed to submit information, views and proposals on actions, initiatives and options to “enhance ambition” on emissions reduction. World leaders will be convened on this issue in 2014 with a draft negotiating text available before May 2015.

New Infrastructure

Progress, in the form of the Green Climate Fund, was made in respect of new infrastructure to facilitate the transfer of technology and access to finance for developing nations. This fund will be located in the Republic of Korea. The Green Climate Fund is expected to start its work in the second half of 2013 and launch activities in 2014. Also, a UNEP-led consortium has been selected as the host of the Climate Technology Center (CTC), for an initial term of five years. The CTC, along with its associated Network, is the implementing arm of the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Technology Mechanism. 


In addition to general commitments to work and report on long term finance plans in 2013, Germany, UK, France, Denmark, Sweden and the EU Commission announced finance pledges in Doha for the period up to 2015, amounting to approximately 6 billion USD. Work programmes have also been announced on new market based mechanisms including recognising mechanisms established outside the UNFCC such as nationally administered or bilateral offset programmes.

Institutional arrangements in respect of loss and damage connected with climate change : There is to be a UN climate conference at the end of 2013 in Warsaw to discuss further this important aspect.

For more information on the outcome of Doha see here

For more information on the Durban Platform see our previous law now