Daily Tck 12/03: State of play in the high level Doha Climate Talks

• December 3, 2012

cop18 Doha youth protester

Ministers have begun to arrive in Doha and crunch time begins with the high level segment starting on Wednesday. There is no question that we will leave Doha still on a path to a 4 degree + world, but we knew that before we arrived. The question for Doha is: will the talks here alter our current path?

Policy Update

Durban Platform
We left Durban with the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform (ADP) for Enhanced Action, a decision to negotiate a new climate treaty by 2015, which would come into force by 2020. A separate work stream was set up under the ADP to focus on pre-2020 ambition, given that scientists have said that we need to peak and begin to decline global emissions by 2015 if we are to have any hope of avoiding dangerous levels of climate change.

Negotiations under the ADP towards a 2015 deal have not yet started in earnest. The Co-Chairs are essentially in “listening mode” and until the LCA (Long Term Co-operative Action that includes all countries) is closed and it is clear which issues are left unresolved, countries are not going to deeply dive into the 2015 treaty negotiations. Yesterday ADP Co-Chairs released a draft text for Parties consideration and we will see how Parties respond. The, initial reaction from NGOs is that it is not enough (even for Doha’s low expectations) but it is probably a basis to begin negotiations. We hope for NGO intervention slots at the ADP Plenary later today to point out where the text can be improved.

The greater disappointment has to be on the pre-2020 ambition. We have seen little progress here, much to the frustration of the Small Island States (AOSIS) and Least Developed Countries (LDC’s) who fought so hard to get this included in the Durban Platform. It is literally a matter of survival for many of them, but tragic for all of us with climate change impacts on the rise everywhere. We need concrete plans, with an emphasis on the developed countries for pre-2020 mitigation. This should be of the highest priority for Ministers now arriving.

Kyoto Protocol
The issues covered last week by the Daily Tck on the LCA and KP tracks remain. The KP remains stuck on issues between the EU and AOSIS on the length of the commitment period and the transfer of all of that ‘hot air’ from Poland.


Some assurances from the EU and Australia on climate finance and on pre-2020 ambition under the ADP track could open up political space. Ministers need to take the time to understand their respective positions and find ways forward.

The LCA track is proving to be difficult. Unlike the KP, It includes all of the countries and because there is a resistance by developed countries to positively conclude LCA commitments, consensus remains elusive.

Climate finance and equity keep coming up as two areas that could help the LCA come to a conclusion here in Doha. No one expects these issues to be resolved here in Doha but a one year work programme on equity could be an elegant and positive way to move this issue forward. Finance is more complicated but those countries who are ready to make commitments to fast start finance should play those cards now rather than allow ill will and distrust to build up. If President Obama is serious about climate change, his team here needs to commit to previous levels of climate finance and start to engage on innovative sources of finance.

On a positive note, the Emir of Qatar is planning to host a news conference tomorrow morning with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Chistiana Figueres. Could it be that Qatar will be the first in the Gulf Region to submit a pledge to the UNFCCC? Time will tell.


The first week of the conference concluded in Doha with an event having a historical for the whole Gulf Region. On Saturday morning, hundreds of activists marched along the Persian Gulf, calling for urgent climate action. While climate marches have been an integral part of former UN climate conferences, never had the march hold such a symbolic importance. In a region little used to witnessing public protests, the sight of the Arab Youth Climate Movement marching the street of Doha and sharing vocally their aspiration for climate justice along international activists resonated with particular importance for our Bahraini tracker, Tariq Al-Olaimy. READ MORE >>

Inspired by a sense of global solidarity found at the climate march, Nikki Hogdson came back to the conference centre seeking to understand what role her government was willing to play to promote climate equity. Alas, instead of a commitment to support the most vulnerable countries or to take adequate action to slow the pace of climate change, Nikki found mainly bitter irony on the side of the US delegation. When the pot can call the kettle black without battling an eyelid, the climate conference gets one step closer to turning into “a theater of the absurd”. READ MORE >>

As delegates enter the second week of the conference, the political nature of these negotiations becomes more obvious. With a couple of hundreds of ministers arriving progressively in Doha, rumors begin to spread in relation to where the process is heading and how Qatar intends to handle both the opportunities and risks associated to the presence of so many high level decision makers. A few parties to the negotiations have provided their own vision on how this multilateral process could move forward, the US for instance suggesting to move towards “mini-lateralism” with only large emitters involved in the discussion. Chris Wright highlights for us the risks of a discussion that would exclude the most vulnerable voices. READ MORE >>

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About the Author

Karl Burkart is the Digital Communications Director for the GCCA, the Global Call for Climate Action, and TckTckTck, a network of 400+ diverse organizations working around the world for greater action on the growing problem of climate change. Karl also blogs on technology and the environment for a variety of publications. You can follow him on Twitter @greendig.

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