Doha talks enter critical phase

December 05, 2012 01:11 am | Updated December 04, 2021 10:54 pm IST - DOHA

UN Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres addresses the opening of the high-level segment of the annual UN climate talks, in Doha on Tuesday.

UN Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres addresses the opening of the high-level segment of the annual UN climate talks, in Doha on Tuesday.

As the United Nations climate change conference enters the high level segment, with a ministerial round slated for Wednesday, negotiators are grappling with the impasse over issues of finance and the second period of commitment to the Kyoto Protocol from developed countries including the European Union (EU).

While Indian environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan may not be present to steer the country’s negotiations, like other countries of the G77 plus. China, India too is unhappy with the lack of commitment and silence from developed nations especially on the question of finances, intellectually property rights and technology transfer and equity.

The G77 plus China group on Monday had protested over the text of the Long term cooperative action (LCA) which had blank pages for certain subjects. The outrage over the LCA and the fact that several key issues like finance, equity and intellectual property rights did not find a place has led to some small informal spin off groups being formed on Tuesday for discussion on each of the topics.

India, China and others were aghast to find several key issues shelved and the resulting outrage provoked the formation of smaller groups which will discuss the issues of finances, mitigation, market mechanisms and REDD which will present outcomes to be discussed tomorrow at a higher level. The G 77 feels marginally placated by this attempt to at least put back the issues that the LCA had blithely left out of its paper.

The question now was of finding the right balance, a negotiator said.

With EU not agreeing to a second period of commitment to the Kyoto Protocol unless there is a mid term review of emission targets and the period of compliance, Brazil and Norway have been tasked with finding a face saver. Brazil has proposed, it is learnt a workshop in 2013 or so where the emission cuts can be discussed so that commitment can be made in another six months or so. EU has agreed to 20 per cent emission cuts so far and developing countries want more commitment from it. EU is moving cautiously on the proposal by Brazil, it is learnt.

The fast start climate finance has over 30 billion $ now which was the proposed amount at the Copenhagen summit till 2012 but there seems to be no clear road map for that kitty to touch the 100 billion $ mark every year by 2020.

Talks are poised at a critical stage with optimism from the United Nations Framework Convention on climate change (UNFCCC) executive secretary Christina Figueres and despair and doom from non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Ms Figueres said that the meeting will deliver another firm step in the right direction for the path ahead while at the same time adding that the world cannot be changed in a few days.

Finances could be the make or break issue at this meeting, according to some and 40 NGOs have issued an open letter to the ministers attending the meeting from tomorrow. The main focus now is on loss and damage and compensatory finance. “Because of the past inaction by developed countries and the sheer severity of the problem, we have now entered an era of loss and damage. The first and foremost response must be to immediately and drastically cut emissions and help vulnerable countries to adapt to new climate realities,” the letter said.

Members of the Third World Network said the main industrialised countries were not interested in legally binding emission cuts and there was a total absence of good faith in the negotiations. Chee Yoke Ling of TWN points out that the developed countries came to Doha with nothing on the table. “While we will move to another building block of the Kyoto Protocol, we don’t see good faith and the situation is bleak,” she adds. The TWN said there were blank pages under the following issues – adaptation; technology development and transfer (which includes the issues of intellectual property rights and technology assessment), finance, capacity-building and economic and social consequences of response measures (which includes the issue of unilateral measures).

Janet Redman, co-director of the Institute for Policy studies says that the fast start climate fund could well become a greedy corporate fund and there are examples of how the USA is pushing for the private sector to play a larger role in what is essentially public financing of the climate fund. There is an incredibly dangerous emphasis on private sector being the main source of financing, she adds.

The European Union (EU) and the USA claim that their commitments to the Fast start climate fund is almost fulfilled with Connie Hedegaard of EU saying that it had contributed 7.14 billion euros of its target of 7.2 billion euros. She too was not averse to private capital since it was a question of raising up to 100 billion $. The USA too has coughed up 7.5 billion $ which US special envoy for climate change Todd Stern said was quite good in these challenging financial times. He did not comment on the issue of paying up for loss and damage

Doha also has the task of ensuring the second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol from January 1, 2013 over which again there are doomsday predictions. Ms Natarajan it is learnt has to stay back for the crucial vote on FDI on December 7 in Parliament. India has been pushing for equitable access to sustainable development, say NGOs and had in the past played a crucial role in the negotiations.

(Meena Menon is in Doha with support from the Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi)

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