Doha, Qatar – Youth organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) piled pressure on climate change negotiators to reach resolution on a number of pressing issues including the future of the Kyoto Protocol, the only legally binding cap on greenhouse gas emissions, whose first commitment period expires at the end of this year.
Governments meeting in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar launched negotiations this week to get decision texts ready or as complete as possible for the attention of the high-level ministerial session beginning December 4.
“Work has been launched as scheduled in all the negotiating bodies and governments have shown commitment here to achieve the objectives of this important conference, which must set the stage for a new leap in global ambition to respond to climate change,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
“Let us remind ourselves again, here in Doha, that international commitments to cut greenhouse gases and deal with the impacts of climate change are higher than they have ever been, yet are still not sufficient to prevent the global average temperature rising beyond the 2 degree centigrade target that governments themselves have agreed to,” she said.
Trudy Zundel of the youth organization, Earthen Brackets said negotiators must make haste on climate change talks because “we’re in planetary emergency.”
“Countries need to do what it can to halt climate change and do it with a sense of humanity…lives and livelihoods are at stake,” she said.
Noting that the 18th Conference of Parties is taking place in Qatar which has the world’s highest emission per capita, Reem Al Mealla from the newly formed Arab Youth Climate Movement said Arab governments, as a first step, should pledge to cut down their greenhouse gas emissions.
Qatar has the world’s third biggest natural gas reserves and is the top supplier of liquefied natural gas, according to the US government’s Energy Information Administration. It also produces and exports oil.
350.org said “negotiators should cease their face-saving, their endless bracketing and last minute cooking of texts and concentrate entirely on figuring out how to live within the carbon budget scientists set. We can’t emit more than 565 more gigatons of carbon before 2050, but at the current pace we’ll blow past that level in 15 years. If we want to have a chance to stick to this budget by 2020 we can’t send to the atmosphere more than 200 gigatons.”
In an open letter to countries at the Doha talks, the organisation said rich countries who have poured most of the carbon into the atmosphere need to take the lead in emission reductions while emerging economies have also to make commitments to reduce the exploitation of oil, coal and gas.
Negotiators at the Doha conference have set themselves several key objectives including the seamless continuation of the Kyoto Protocol as of 1 January 2013.
Key issues under the Protocol that need to be decided include the length of the second commitment period and how to convert targets into so-called “quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives” (QELROs), the unit of binding reduction commitments and the legal formulation of the amendment to the Protocol, including how to carry over unused emission credits of economies in transition into the second phase of the Protocol.
Governments at last year’s climate change conference in Durban also agreed to reach a universal climate change agreement covering all countries from 2020, to be adopted by 2015, and to find concrete ways before 2020 to increase efforts beyond the existing pledges.
In Doha, governments need to decide which elements of the Bali Action Plan have been achieved and/or implemented, what additional decisions can be taken in Doha and which elements may need to continue to be further addressed.
At the climate change conference in Durban last year, Governments agreed to complete the 2007 Bali Action Plan, covering the areas of mitigation (curbing greenhouse gas emissions), adaptation to climate change, and the finance, technology and capacity-building which developing countries require to build their low-emission, climate-resilient futures.
Another area for the negotiators at Doha is completing new infrastructure and charting the way forward on long-term climate finance to support action in developing nations, which they have agreed must reach a level of USD 100 billion a year by 2020
Linda Hutchinson-Jafar is Editor of Earth Conscious Magazine