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COP to be sidelined by High-Level Forum in 2014?

Posted on 6 December 2012

IBON International Update #8 from Doha COP18

Climate, Number 8

Doha, December 6, 2012
As COP18 slowly draws to a close, much doubt remains as to whether agreement on immediate and meaningful measures to tackle climate change will be reached. This impression has been hardened by unconfirmed reports that UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said on Wednesday that he may convene a High-Level Forum on Climate Change in 2014. Such a forum could engage urgent issues at the highest political level, likely to be heads of state.  While welcomed by major developed countries, this would take the momentum away from the COP process with ministers reluctant to make commitments in advance of 2014, and instead shift it to an arena in which developing countries are weaker as a negotiating bloc.
 
Quid pro quo
 
In the talks, two key areas, Long-term Cooperative Action, and the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, have become interlinked as developed and developing countries engage in a quid pro quo over progress.
 
Talks on the Durban Platform, which centers on creating a new agreement to be formalized in 2015 before coming into action in 2020, were terminated by developing countries led by the G77/China. This move was in response to the intransigence of developed countries in making firm commitments to providing public finance in the mid-term, from 2013 to 2020, and over the long-term, beyond 2020, through the Green Climate Fund, and making meaningful mitigation commitments.  Developing countries want developed nations to commit to funding equaling 1.5% of their annual GDP. The Philippines encapsulated the developing countries’ perception of the developed when it said they are “blockers and deniers who are refusing to show commitments and yet are pushing obligations onto developing countries”.
 
Developing countries will refuse to progress on Durban Platform (ADP) talks until they see satisfactory progress in LCA. They say that ADP talks are meaningless without first tackling issues such as finance and technology, among others. Thus, talks on long-term cooperative action (LCA) are central to COP18 ending with agreements or collapsing altogether.
 
However, the role of the US will be central to agreement in LCA—and the US has made its position clear that it will not, and it says cannot, commit to financing beyond the next year. US chief negotiator Jonathan Pershing reminded NGOs that the US would not subscribe to budgeting commitments it could not carry through at home, underlining that the ruling Democratic party does not control the US Congress. Of equal influence on the US is the power of the fossil fuel lobby. It has huge influence over Congress and the media, and lobbies legislators, funds climate deniers and exerts tremendous effort to halt a progressive shift in climate policy, thus having a consequent impact on progress at an international level.
 
Agreement nears in 2CP – lack of ambition remains
 
Agreement seems most likely to be reached in negotiations on a second commitment period (2CP) for the Kyoto Protocol, where Parties look likely to conclude on making 2CP legally binding. However, the extent of
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