COP18 Doha UN climate talks Dec 6th

Thurs 0840: Like the old British empire, the sun never sets on UN climate negotiations. Round the clock they go – last night the working group for so-called Long Term Cooperative Action wound up at 4.00am and is due to recommence at 10.00 this morning. By 7.00pm it’s supposed to hold its closing plenary.

The group working on the Kyoto Protocol failed to hold its own closing session last night – now rescheduled to 11.00am.

It’s no surprise to hear that “informal ministerial outreach” has been unleashed on the proceedings. Selected small teams of ministers prowl the corridors in search of stubborn negotiators whose heads need banging together.

Then there’s the Orwellian Room 101, a place of unspeakable plotting by subversive alliances. Does it exist or is it a twinkle in the eye of Twitter?


Thurs 1230: NGO observers at the Doha COP are calling on the Qatari presidency to inject a sense of urgency to the political process.

“COPs are always chaotic at this stage,” said Liz Gallagher of E3G, ” but we have an escalation of the usual chaos here in Doha and we have nobody leading.” She suggested that the Qataris should convey to ministers that it is time to roll up their sleeves in the search for a successful outcome.

Leading the press conference which has just concluded, Wael Hmaidan – Director of the Climate Action Network, said: “We were hoping that the Arab world would show leadership but unfortunately that leadership has never materialised.”

Hmaidan referred to widespread hopes that Qatar would announce its own pledges of emissions cuts and commitment to the demands for climate finance. “Today is the last day for them to do it in a way that would contribute,” he said. “We hope they are going to do it today.”

Such a move would raise the spirits of the COP, enabling the presidency to work constructively with those countries determined to reach an agreement.


Thurs 1405: Lead negotiators representing the world’s poorest countries have joined with the international NGO movement in an emergency appeal to developed countries to face up to their legal obligations to take action on climate change.

At a press conference at the Doha climate talks earlier this afternoon, Asad Rehman read out a statement on behalf of Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, WWF, ActionAid, Oxfam and Christian Aid. The statement described the gap between the Doha talks and scientific reality as an emergency.

Pa Ousman Jarju, chair of the LDCs Group of negotiators, said:

“We are not going to leave here with open promises. We welcome the pledges of finance by some countries but this must be done in a framework. We call on the US, Australia and Japan to consult with their partners.”

Pa Ousman Jarju referred to his expectations of a minimum of $60 billion, moving forward towards the climate finance promise of $100 billion per annum by 2020.

Dr Emmanuel Dlamini, chair of the Africa Group of negotiators said:

“We must raise the level of ambition. Without doing that then I see no way to address this problem. And without addressing this problem, the people of Africa are going extinct.”

Dr Dlamini agreed that the issue of finance is critical to assist African countries with implementation of their plans to address climate change.

Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace, repeated his accusation that the two leading members of the US delegation have been a stumbling block to progress in climate negotiations for many years. “Today we have written to President Obama,” he said.

Questioned about the apparent conciliatory gesture made yesterday by US special envoy, Todd Stern, in offering to discuss the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilites, Naidoo was scathing:

“we are totally unimpressed by this comment by Todd Stern. It is too little, too late, unless backed by action.”


Thurs 1430: The most powerful appeal for urgent action in the closing Kyoto Protocol Plenary came from Naderev Saño, lead negotiator for the Philippines.
“I appeal to all, please, no more delays, no more excuses…The outcome of our work is not about what our political masters want. It is about what is demanded of us by 7 billion people….. lf not us, then who? If not now, then when?”


Thurs 1655: A press conference given by senior negotiators from the BASIC countries (China, India, Brazil and South Africa) has broken the record for the Doha COP by lasting for over an hour, despite the relatively brief opening statements.

The core aim of the media questioning was to pin down what might be the minimum package that the BASIC countries would accept for a deal in Doha. Although the ministers evaded the most direct questions, they made generous efforts to put their position across. What did we learn about this bottom line scenario?

There was a very clear demand for a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, to take effect from January 2013, and to meet a goal of environmental integrity (meaning that the pledges must be worth more than the paper they are written on).

On finance, the impression given by Xie Zhenhua, head of the Chinese delegation, was that he would accept a medium term projection covering the next three years at a level at least equivalent to the current fast start period.

The third core demand is for a balanced outcome, meaning agreement on all three tracks of the negotiations.

Beyond these three areas, there was less clarity on what really matters. My impression was that technology transfer, and the issue of intellectual property rights in particular, is increasingly bracketed with finance. We know this area is important to India.

The Brazilian speaker also mentioned the importance of equitable access to sustainable development and concern about unilateral trade measures.

It seems evident that the developed countries are pleading economic difficulties in the discussions about climate finance. Observations by the BASIC group included:

* Developing countries are in a permanent state of financial difficulties, by definition, especially the poorest
* Those countries which have stepped forward with pledges in Doha are experiencing financial diffciulties. Why do others cite this excuse?
* The financial difficulties are temporary. The urgency of climate change is permanent

I sensed a conciliatory tone on finance which may not be found in the groups representing Africa and the Least Developed Countries. The Brazilian spokesman said that they would negotiate in a spirit which understands momentary economic difficulties. Xie Zhenhua made a point of welcoming the 6 major commitments announced so far conceded that the long term financing trajectory is difficult. But he insisted that “we have to have an outcome on finance which is both quantitative and qualitative.”

Mr Xie explained that there are two topics for which “informal ministerial outreach” has been arranged (two ministers delegated to find solutions) – they are the second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol and climate finance.

All speakers stressed their willingness to adopt a flexible approach in the cause of finding a satisfactory outcome to the Doha COP.


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