Doha: More of the Same, Developed Countries Won’t Change

Integral Ecology | Fri, Dec 14, 2012

By Liz Haney

The climate talks in Doha last week failed to deliver cuts in carbon pollution and put no money on the table to help the poorest countries deal with climate change. As the international community attemtps to move forward towards a binding agreement for 2015, we must see far greater commitment from developed nations. We have seen only minimum commitment on the vital issue of equity, and without equity there will be no progress.

Though Super Storm Sandy hit the East Coast of the United States just over a month ago, and the Typhoon Bopha ravaged the Phillipines just last week, neither the storm, nor the suffering of those in the wake of such storms inspired action at the UN climate change conference in Doha, Qatar.

After two weeks of meetings, Doha revealed no new ambition in emissions targets, though the latest reports indicate that climate change is occurring faster and more severely than previously predicted. 1 2 Developed countries failed to agree on a method to make measures of their carbon emissions transparent and comparable. Parties to the 2nd period of the Kyoto Protocol allowed loopholes to carry over the use and trading of “hot air” or tradable credits, allowing countries to continue to emit carbon rather than build on successful emission reductions.

Across the globe in both developed and developing countries, people are feeling the effects of climate change. The world’s poorest people in developing countries face storms, droughts and migration, as their governments attempt to plan for future disasters, without a clear vision of the resources that will be available for them to do so. With the exception of a few European countries, no developed countries would make clear pledges about climate funds in Doha, though in 2009 they agreed to provide $100 billion annually to help developing countries adapt and mitigate climate change. CIDSE’s Climate Policy Officer, Emilie Johann has indicated that climate finance may even go down, as developed countries gave no clarity about how they might meet the promised $100 between now and 2020.

For a deal to come to fruition by 2015 to be implemented in 2020, all countries must come to the table ready to discuss equity. Those working on the ADP must begin work now, for currently we not have process –whether workshops, structures or even ideas of how to begin meaningful work on equity. In this process, developed countries must acknowledge their moral obligation to take leadership on fixing the climate crisis which they created and continue to create.

Despite the failure of developed nations to make meaningful commitments to scale up their climate finance, parties did agree on starting  work program on loss and damage immediately to help victims of climate change will start immediately and “to establish institutional arrangement, such as an international mechanism,” at COP19 next year.

Over the next two years, developed countries must take responsibility for historical and continuing emissions. The world’s poorest must have predictablesupport as they attempt to pull themselves out of poverty and also out of the wreckage of increasing numbers of storms and the collapse of droughts. As CIDSE’s Climate Policy officer Emilie Johann said, "Doha slaps the poorest on both cheeks. On the one hand, world leaders let climate change spiral out of control, which makes it more difficult for the world's most vulnerable to cope with extreme weather. On the other, the poorest are left in the dark about the amount of money they can expect in support of urgent adaptation and mitigation measures."

1 Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided: Turn Down the Heat, A Report for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics, November 2012

Policy Implications of Warming Permafrost, UNEP, 2012