Doha, Qatar – As the UN Climate Change conference heads into its final week here, battle lines are drawn over mid-term finance targets for the years 2013-2020 and the second period of the Kyoto Protocol which commits developed countries to deeply cut emissions, expected to start on January 1, 2013.
Developing countries fear that the Kyoto Protocol might be in trouble while there’s concern over an apparent deadlock on the issue of financing climate actions in developing countries and mobilization of US$100 billion a year by 2020, which may lead to a weak outcome of the Doha talks.
But Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), was adamant that the 18th Conference of Parties will produce a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.
“We will have the necessary commitments to go to January 1, 2013,” she said Monday.
President of the Conference of the Parties (COP 18/CMP 8), Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Chairman of Qatar’s Administrative Control and Transparency Authority was also optimistic that the Gulf Arab state would produce a satisfying result at the end of the week.
“We are working day and night,” he told journalists at a joint briefing with Figueres. “I’m optimistic we will reach a conclusion that will be acceptable to everyone.
The Alliance of Small Island States’ (AOSIS), a coalition of 43 countries including the Caribbean said the package it agreed to in Durban last year was contingent upon immediately raising mitigation ambition in the short-term.
The group said the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol should be for a length of five-years to avoid locking-in insufficient mitigation ambition while provisional application remains the strongest available legal option for avoiding a legal gap between the first and second commitment periods.
AOSIS also wants a decision to ramp up mitigation ambition in 2013 under the work plan, by agreeing to activities that enable countries to take more ambitious action and close the ambition gap.
“The science is clear: further delay would mean the opportunity to avert a global calamity would be irrevocably lost,” the group said adding that time is running out to prevent the loss of entire nations and other calamities in member states that are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change
“Since we last met in Durban, many of our countries have endured numerous extreme, and in some cases deadly, weather events, such as prolonged droughts, heat waves, floods, and super storms—not to mention accelerating sea level rise and increasing ocean acidification,” the group said in a statement.
As government ministers began arriving in Doha for the high level segment of the conference which starts on Tuesday, youth representatives and non-governmental groups also voiced their displeasure at the lack of progress over the first week of the climate change talks.
NGOs warned that the outlook on the conference was “bleak” accusing the US, the EU and other rich industrialised countries of blocking talks after refusing to discuss finance commitment leading to a white page under the issue of finance in the proposed draft text.
“The empty-white page matches the climate finance pledges of developed countries under the UN climate convention, an empty shell, a big zero,” said Chee Yoke Ling, director of the Third World Network, a Malaysian based NGO.
Brandon Wu, climate campaigner at Action Aid said several independent studies have shown that the previous round of climate finance promises weren’t met.
“Those broken promises threaten to break the talks. If the US and others continue to refuse an agreement on new levels, on transparency and on sources then developing countries should consider walking away from the table completely,” Wu said.
Observers of the talks were also concerned about the future of the Green Climate Fund which was designed to channel up to US$100 billion annually to poor countries but still in its infancy stage.
“Currently the Green Climate Fund stands empty of public dollars, with developed countries threatening to starve the Fund unless the private sector can have unfettered access.” Janet Redman, a senior policy analyst at the U.S. based think-tank the Institute for Policy Studies, said.
“The Green Climate Fund, arguably the most significant concrete outcome from the 2011 Durban conference, was meant for the people who are most impacted by climate change, not big business or Wall Street, ” Redman, said, adding that developed countries must fulfill their promise to fill the fund.
Youth delegates on Monday also highlighted the need for countries to diversify their oil and gas based economies.
Abdulla Saif, a young Bahraini with the Arab Youth Climate Movement explained his participation, “I am from the Arab Gulf where oil production makes up the lion’s share of economic activity. Our movement is pushing for diversification because we understand that fossil fuels aren’t the energy sources of the future, but progress is inherently slow.
“Countries like the US and Canada, which contribute much higher levels of emissions than the Gulf States, could more easily lead the global transition to clean energy if only their politics weren’t so polluted by industry money.”
Linda Hutchinson-Jafar is Editor of Earth Conscious Magazine