“It must be understood that what we are negotiating here is a complete transformation of the economic structure of the world. This cannot happen overnight…” said Christiana Figueres, the head of the UN climate secretariat, in a press conference on Monday 3 December 2012. Ms. Figueres does not appear to underestimate the ramifications of the decisions taken in Doha, but with government ministers and some heads of state arriving in Doha and anticipation increasing, her statement appears to be one of expectation management.
The Doha Conference: Day Eight
Given the closure of the SBI and SBSTA, the focus has now turned to the Ad Hoc Working Groups ahead of their planned closure on Wednesday. There is much still to be decided before this can happen, but it is hoped that the arrival of the more senior delegates will give the working groups sufficient drive to overcome their current stalemate. The arrival of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday 4 December 2012 (day 9) for the High Level Segment of the conference may well provide further momentum to the discussions.
Chair Tayeb offered a new text to the working group, however, once again it was not well received and the rifts between the parties appeared to have widened. The G77/China noted that the paper failed to reflect the Bali Action Plan, which is regarded by many, including the African Group, as essential for continuing discussions. Given their desire to close the working group, perhaps unsurprisingly, the U.S., Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand all suggested recognising the progress that had been made, and that discussions as to long-term finance and adaptation will continue in other work streams. Barbados noted that there are currently no plans for the GCF’s funding to be discussed elsewhere, whilst the EU noted a similar concern as regards market approaches.
With the end of the AWG-LCA in prospect, at this stage the delegates appear to have largely lost sight of pushing forward the substantive issues and instead the focus has shifted to writing an elaborate testament to determine which work steams will inherit the numerous outstanding issues. Chair Tayeb suggested that additional negotiating time may be beneficial.
Modest progress was reported by the spin-off group on numbers and text, although there continues to be disagreement as to the eligibility criteria for participation in the flexible mechanisms during the second commitment period and for carry-over of AAUs. These issues will now be pared down for consideration by the ministers. It is hoped that the current disagreement as to the key issues of the duration of a second commitment period, QELROs and the ambitions of the parties can be resolved or narrowed with further negotiation, although these may also find their way to the ministers in due course.
Discussion continued regarding the CDM, with current proposals including limiting the lifespan of projects to 10 years, tightening the rules on baselines in order to limit the number of credits that each project can produce, and increasing demand by opening the CDM registry completely. It is expected that limiting the lifespan of projects alone could reduce supply by 15%. However, it must be emphasised that these proposals are merely proposals at this stage.
As reported in our previous note, the co-chairs produced a draft text for discussion which included a road map for the working group and noted aspects of a possible decision. Comments unsurprisingly suggested that there should be a commitment to complete work in 2015 (ahead of the 2015 date for signing an agreement to enter force in 2020) although several parties expressed the opinion that it was too early to discuss the specifics of a future agreement.
Given the arrival of ministers from the represented countries, on Monday evening the President of COP 18, His Excellency Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, called an informal stocktaking plenary session. Outstanding matters from the closed SB sessions include the development and transfer of technology, a loss and damage mechanism, methodological issues pertaining to Articles 5, 7 and 8 of the Kyoto Protocol, national adaptation plans and MRV for developing nations. These may continue to be discussed in the COP, or may only be taken forward in the next SBSTA. Concerns as to the lack of clarity here were expressly raised by the African Group.
Referring to the state of play under the AWG-KP, many delegates in the COP plenary session noted the need to focus on access to flexible mechanisms by parties that are not signing up to a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. In light of this, President Al-Attiyah instituted an informal ministerial outreach process, led by delegates from Brazil and Norway, to assist Chair Diouf in these discussions.
As expected, the tone of the AWG-LCA feedback in the COP plenary was less positive, with only one of the four pillars of discussion (mitigation) having produced an agreed paper. Consensus is still being sought on the issues of adaptation, finance, technology transfer, capacity building and response measures, although the Umbrella Group (and indeed many developed nations) continue to push for closure of the LCA work stream. Developing nations, notably Bangladesh and India, continue to regard technology transfer as a priority. If the AWG-LCA does not reach a meaningful conclusion, a key aspect of the Durban platform will have fallen away.
The current intention is to complete discussions on the outstanding aspects from the SB work streams by Tuesday (day 9) and to close the Ad Hoc Working Groups on Wednesday (day 10).
The arrival of the ministers created a noticeable buzz of increased activity. The rumble of developing countries’ dissatisfaction at the lack of ambition amongst developed countries is becoming a constant soundtrack to the conference. Indeed, a spokesman from AOSIS described the conference thus far as a “sobering experience”. On a lighter note, mention should perhaps be given to Monaco who has committed to reducing their emissions by 30% and to participate in a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol.