Show me the road from Doha

30 November 2012

With no deadline to agree anything before 2015, the discussions are interesting but directionless. Richard Gledhill, Jonathan Grant and Dan Hamza Goodacre report from Doha.

Much of COP18 is following a familiar rhythm. Opening presentations - three minutes each for delegates to bang their particular drums. Then meetings along the twin tracks of the Kyoto Protocol (KP) and Long-term Cooperative Action (LCA) as well as the newer Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform (ADP). The expectation is that work under KP and LCA could be wrapped up at the end of the COP with the EU, Australia and a few others confirming their targets.  The Kyoto Protocol would then apply to countries totalling only 15% of global emissions. 

Talk in the corridors suggest that all the action is in the LCA meetings, with divergent views on long term financing which could undermine the rest of the COP.

In ADP the re-emergence of the historic firewall between developed and developing nations threatens to undermine discussion of increasing ambition (link to http://pwc.blogs.com/sustainability/2012/11/ambitious-targets-lets-start-talking-numbers.html).  And there is no deadline to agree anything before 2015 so the discussions are interesting but directionless.

On Sunday negotiators get a short break, and Forest Day takes centre stage. The main business events kick off at the weekend too, with a business conference, and the WBCSD Business Day next Monday. Agriculture is a bigger agenda item this year and will be the focus on Tuesday.

Petrol Head?
In his week one dialogue with civil society the COP President HE Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah showed refreshing honesty about the mitigation challenge in Qatar -  "I love my car!" he exclaimed. Qatar said today that it isn't ready yet to make its own pledge towards the Durban Platform, but will be shaping its strategy during 2013 and hopes make a pledge at the next COP.

This year, though, many negotiators here will be hoping that their host will use the opportunity of Doha to commit more of its 'patient capital' towards climate action.

Virtual COP:
This year the UN climate negotiations have gone paper free, which at least relieves negotiators and observers at Doha of one burden. Recycling, though, is not yet the norm in Qatar. So there is a small opportunity here to 'walk the talk' after the COP.

Pole position:
The award of 'Fossil of the Day' by ECO, the environmental NGO news-sheet, was probably not the accolade Poland was seeking, following the selection of Warsaw as the venue for COP19. ECO was challenging Poland's stance on its "huge surplus" of AAUs.

Next week
The COP finishes next Friday, probably very late, or more likely some time on Saturday. We hear that the Qataris will be very strict on timings, expecting talks not to go over or else leave for discussions at the next COP. Money will be a big issue for Ministers, with lots of closed door meetings next week, trying to thrash out new commitments to climate finance - the initial Fast Start period runs out next month, and many less developed countries are saying "Show me the money". Let's hope ministers unlock some progress in Week two.

The big outcome that most are pushing for is a second commitment period for the KP. But much more is needed if we want to stay on track for a global deal by 2015.   Watch out for our half time report at the weekend.