The Doha climate talks continued on Saturday with the Conference of Parties (CoP18) president Abdullah Bin Hamid Al Hattiyah of Qatar pushing for a conclusion, while accepting that everyone was unhappy with the proposals, but at the same time wanting an outcome.

After a brief informal plenary in the morning where Mr. Al Hattiyah asked ministerial outreach groups on key issues to report back after consultation, the plenary convened briefly in the afternoon where no one said anything on the proposals under discussion which include finance, loss and damage, second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol, apart from long-term cooperative action (LCA). It was decided then to take up the various proposals starting with the Kyoto Protocol and its second commitment period under the Conference of the Parties (CoP) serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP).

The CoP president, determined to finish the meeting on Saturday, said there can be no text which can make everyone happy and if the texts were reopened for discussion, it would be like opening a Pandora’s box and take another two or three weeks to reach a conclusion.

After much heated debate through the night including a standoff between G77 and the United States on the issue of loss and damage, finance, shared vision and other issues that were raked up, the Doha Gateway to which Mr. Al Hattiyah referred to optimistically last night seems reachable, though the likely outcome smacks of a weak-kneed approach and even weaker commitments on all fronts. After protests by several countries on the main proposals up for debate which were revised in fresh texts in the morning, the sticking points continue to be finance, where the new text remains vague on midterm commitments and the proposals on payment for loss and damage where an international mechanism has been suggested much to the consternation of the U.S., and the lack of ambition in emission cuts by developed countries, among other key issues.

Kuomi Naidöo, international executive director of Greenpeace says, “That the key issue is money and we are running out of time. Science is urging us to take quick decisions. We came here with low expectations and there are some main issues for instance, the countries jumping ship from the second period of commitment to the Kyoto Protocol and the question of finance.“

"The United States is probably going to spend $60 billion on damage to New Jersey alone after superstorm Sandy and it spends an equal amount if not more on its marching bands in the military,” he remarks.

The proposals for the second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol too continue to be weak and linked to reviews and a ministerial process, says Harjeet Singh of Action Aid international. “What is stopping the developed countries from increasing their ambitions to make emission cuts,“ he asks. A weak second period of commitment and no finance on the table spells doom for future of the Durban Platform, he adds. The ADP or the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action is a subsidiary body that was established in Durban to develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties. The ADP is to complete its work as early as possible but no later than 2015 in order to adopt this protocol.

The principles of equity are absent under ADP, Mr. Singh says and referring to the “Doha Gateway”, he adds that if the path is based on no firm commitment to finance and no ambitious emission cuts from the developed world, it will be a destination to nowhere.

While the U.S. in informal discussion has accepted that losses can be humungous due to climate impacts, it is opposed to compensation as envisaged by countries faced with the threat of going underwater due to sea level rise. The spirit of compensation is there in some ways in the Loss and damage proposals, including one to establish, institutional arrangements, such as an international mechanism, which is the U.S. bugbear.

Dr. Saleemul Huq, director, International Centre for Climate Change and Development, Dhaka, says the U.S. and developed countries cannot resist payment for loss and damage forever. The adaptation fund had collapsed and there was a need for putting in place a system, he points out.

Dr. Huq said no one wants the process to halt at Doha. There will be compromises to keep the show on. Doha is not the place to get things done. The equity issue may be accepted but it has yet to be resolved. “The issue here is not of acceptance of a possible solution, but if you can live with it, “ he adds.