Doha COP 18: Gateway to more climate injustice

Posted on 10 December 2012

IBON International Statement on the Doha outcomes

Manila, Philippines, December 10, 2012

The recently concluded climate negotiations in Doha, Qatar, are being spun as having opened “a gateway to greater ambition and action on climate change”.  In reality they merely kept the Kyoto Protocol alive, just enough to be able to claim a multilateral framework for dealing with the climate crisis still exists.  But this is a much-weakened multilateral framework that is full of loopholes and clearly inadequate to the task of preventing irreversible climate change. Crucially, it has failed to provide the immediate action needed to address climate change now. Instead, all the tough decisions that needed to be made to “raise ambition and action on climate change” have essentially been postponed to 2015 or beyond—for implementation in 2020 onwards.  In other words, the world has been locked into another decade of official inaction in the face of a planetary emergency.
The only significant outcome of Doha is the official recognition of the loss and damage suffered by developing countries as a result of climate change, possibly paving the way for “aid” and loans from developed countries in response.  But developed countries led by the US ensured that any pledges will not be construed as compensation or legal liability for historical damage to the atmosphere wrought by the advanced industrialized countries for a century-and-a-half of pollution.
It also opened up a new work program on new market mechanisms to extend and expand the so-called flexibility mechanisms.  This allows the developed countries to buy their way out of making good on their emissions reductions targets through carbon markets and offsets while giving bankers and traders new opportunities to make profits from new financial instruments. 
When the dust settles on Doha in the wake of COP 18, it may be well remembered as having paved the way towards the craven acceptance that it would be more “pragmatic” to deal with the consequences of the climate crisis rather than address its root causes.

A failed COP
Whether on reducing emissions, financing mitigation and adaptation, transferring technology or dealing with the mounting losses and damages wrought by climate change, the leaders of the countries most responsible for the climate crisis refused to make any meaningful commitments in Doha.

  • The second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, the only legally binding multilateral emissions treaty, has been extended to eight years, locking in until 2020 unambitious treaty which Japan, Russia and Canada have pulled out from, joining the US, which never ratified it. It contains a call for Kyoto Protocol countries to review their emissions reduction target in line with the 25-40% range by 2014 at the latest.
  • The treaty includes loopholes such as the carry-over of surplus allowances in reductions from the first commitment period and the trading of unused carbon emissions permits, known as “hot air”.
  • On finance, developed countries have failed to produce the immediate funding needed and required in line with their historic responsibility for causing climate change. Firm decisions have been put back to 2013, with
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