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2012 UN climate talks start in Doha

11-26-2012 15:40 BJT Special Report:UN Climate Change Conference in Doha |

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This year’s UN climate conference is kicking off right now at the Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha. It encompasses the 18th Conference of the Parties (COP18) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 8th Meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP8). Over the next two weeks, Nearly 200 nations are seeking to extent a flagging UN-led plan to fight climate change into 2013.

About 17,000 people including delegates and visitors are in attendance, making it Doha’s largest ever conference. Delegates are looking for a way to extend the Kyoto Protocol, which is the only legally binding U.N. plan for cutting emissions by developed nations. It’s not going to be an easy task given the global economic slowdown and the loss of backing from Russia, Japan and Canada. The meeting will also seek to lay the groundwork for a new pact for 2020. This agreement would bind all nations - not just the rich - to curb emissions. The effects of climate change are becoming more apparent than ever, with floods, droughts, heat waves, the melting Arctic ice caps and rising sea levels.

A U.N. study released last week said that rising greenhouse gas emissions indicated that global temperatures are on course to rise between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius. That would have a catastrophic effect on water and food supplies. A UN conference two years ago saw states agree to try and limit the temperature rises to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times. But despite this commitment, greenhouse gas levels hit record highs in 2011, despite a world economic slowdown.

For many, the 1997 Kyoto pact still offers the best hope of fighting climate change. It binds developed nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions to an average 5.2 percent below 1990 levels between the years 2008 and 2012.

But with many countries reluctant to continue into the second commitment period, Kyoto backers are down to a core group led by the European Union and Australia. Together, they account for less than 15 percent of world emissions. These countries say it’s pointless to extend cuts under Kyoto when big emerging nations, led by China, India, Brazil and South Africa, are under no obligation to curb their emissions. The United States never ratified Kyoto, for similar reasons. Developing nations and Kyoto backers say it is vital that the rich countries lead the way towards a new world-wide accord. That’s due to be negotiated by the end of 2015 and to enter into force in 2020.

Failure to extend Kyoto would leave states to deal with the problem at a national level, without a legally binding U.N. framework.

The EU and others agreed at last year’s talks in Durban to extend Kyoto for a new period but there is still no agreement on many key details, such as whether it should last five or eight years.

A study released by international aid agency Oxfam on Sunday also showed that developed nations had fallen short of pledges to help the developing world. They were supposed to commit 10 billion U.S. dollars a year in new money to help developing countries combat climate change for the 2010 to 2012 period. But the report says only 33 percent of this "fast start finance" could be considered new.

Nations also promised aid totalling 100 billion dollars a year by 2020, but did not make any pledges for 2013 to 2019.

Editor:Zhou Minxi |Source:

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