Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Climate Talks at Doha

As I have traditional done I will take a look at the most recent negotiations on climate change which took place in Doha, Qatar last month. This was the annually scheduled United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP).

Reminder: The Kyoto Protocol expired last month. Therefore, the last few years have been concerned with what to do next. Last year they went a long way to getting this done, but that was not enough.

If you listen to the media, you probably would have not even have known that there was a meeting, as there was very little coverage. I have heard some people say that climate change is finally getting the attention it deserves, but not from this showing.

Here are some highlights (but mostly lowlights):

At Doha, rich countries have pledged that they will pay poorer countries for "loss and damage due to climate change". However, no mechanism or funding has been agreed to. From the past experiences, without specific amounts often nothing actually happens except for words and hot air (pun intended).

In Durban (2011) there was an agreement to fund adaptation to climate change. But now the developed countries are complaining about the recession and are now giving no pledges of money through 2020. It is interesting that these same countries cannot give out funding for adaptation, yet can still give out huge subsidies to big oil and coal, the burning of which leads to the biggest generation of greenhouse gases.

At Durban, they agreed on negotations for a new treaty to start in 2020, but did not agree on anything for the interim period. In Doha, there was good news and bad news! The countries have agreed to extend the Kyoto Protocol to 2020. However, only 15% of current greenhouse gases are covered since the US has not ratified Kyoto and some countries have announced they have no intention of adhering to the protocol (especially Canada, Japan, and Russia). Note also that the number 2 emitter (after the USA) of greenhouse gases is China, which is not required to reduce emissions under Kyoto.

Note that all of this comes after some very recent reports which show both the current and future problems. One was a report (pdf) by the World Bank (not usually an environmentally friendly group) warning that we are not doing enough and temperature rises could be as high as 4 degrees if things continue as currently. The other was a research report showing that sea levels are rising faster than that predicted by the IPCC.