Bridging The Gulf

26 November 2012


From one aggressively air-conditioned conference centre to another… Only three months ago, ECO was sitting in tropical Bangkok pondering the outcome of COP18, and now here we are on the edge of the desert. But what a change three months can make. A new Chinese leadership, a new mandate for US President Obama, elections in Ukraine, Georgia, Lithuania and Venezuela, as well as many, many more extreme weather events, resulting in severe loss and extensive damage. But will such monumental shifts in global politics affect the outcome in Doha?
Despite high hopes, Doha was never going to be a cup final. Durban, marked out for the grand ‘huddle’, gave the negotiators new political instructions. Doha must prepare the roadmap  for 2015. ECO would like to remind delegates this doesn’t mean you can kick back and snooze till then. Remember – if you snooze, you lose! Too much is at stake. The final saga of the Kyoto Protocol rolls on, the LCA requires successful closure and a work plan for the new Durban platform for both a 2015 deal and near term ambition must be established, along with progress under the subsidiary bodies.  Doha must not renegotiate Durban. We must only move forward.
Bismarck once said, “Politics is the art of the possible”, and ECO firmly believes a deal is possible in Doha.  But deft diplomacy will need to be at the heart of that deal. ECO waits with bated breath to discover how the COP Presidency will lead Parties to deliver a Doha package.
ECO is delighted that Australia has set a constructive tone going into Doha, with their intention to sign up to the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (albeit with low ambition and those pesky conditions attached). If only other brollies would follow suit. New Zealand’s intention not to sign up to the second commitment period is a scandal. How can countries like New Zealand call for a legally binding agreement in 2015, when they’re not even prepared to put their own skin in the game?
ECO still believes that  the EU will put a target on the table that results in real mitigation, since it already achieved 20% reduction in 2011. Perhaps the Polish delegation would like to consider this, given they’re prepping to host the next COP…. But ECO is prepared. We even packed our souvenir “I ♥ KP” t-shirts from Durban, no doubt much to the delight of many developed country delegates…  An amendment in Doha to the KP that secures environmental integrity by closing down the loopholes will be critical to opening up a productive outcome on the LCA. But ECO cannot ignore the early escape from the Kyoto framework by Canada, Japan and (will they? won’t they?) Russia – these countries are neglecting their obligations and their own national interest.
For many, the successful closure of the LCA track will be the political hot potato.  In addition to adopting the Kyoto amendments, there remains much work to be done, in particular on finance and MRV of developed country actions. Reassuring developing countries that progress is being made on long-term finance and that there will be a ramping up of finance flowing post 2012 will be crucial to addressing their concerns about closing the LCA. This is also indispensable to help them with ambitious climate action.   
ECO thinks the G77 proposal on MRV under 1(b)(i) hits the spot. Ensuring greater transparency and accountability of developed country mitigation actions will help to restore confidence amongst G77 and those signing up to Kyoto (i.e. the majority of the world’s people!) that the Annex I countries not subject to the KP rules will make comparable efforts.
And finally to the ADP.  ECO would like to remind Parties that for 2015, equity and ambition are two sides of the same coin, and securing a negotiation on this will be vital in addressing the concerns from developing countries and concluding the LCA. Likewise on short-term ambition, ECO looks forward to hearing from Parties which action they will take to ramp up efforts in the immediate future. One such concrete measure is that more countries put forward pledges, particularly the COP host and its neighbours. We need to build bridges from the era of burning coal, oil and gas to the cleaner and brighter future of renewable energy access for all, and a safe climate.
The global shifts in politics and economics we are witnessing are having profound implications on both the need for and dynamics within the UNFCCC negotiations.  The gulf to bridge between lofty intentions and credible action is wide. Whilst the political will is still lagging amongst many critical emitters, the weather is turning (metaphorically and meteorologically). Success in 2015 will require fundamental shifts in the real and political economies of many countries. Doha must build on and move forward from Durban to ensure we still have a cup final worth fighting for.

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