As it has become a tradition with the UN climate talks each year, a decision or final agreement wasn’t reached until after the official end. The meeting was meant to close on Friday, 7th December 2012, but final agreements were only reached and made public on Saturday 8th.
The continuation of the Kyoto protocol was secured for a further eight years, until 2020, "preserving this vital framework of international law, and retaining rules on accounting for emissions and trading between countries," as pointed out in a report in the Guardian. However, the Doha deal confirmed that Kyoto will be wound up in 2020 and it will be replaced by a single legal agreement that ends the outdated distinction between "developed" and "developing" countries and requires all to make commitments proportionate with their level of development, added the report.
The draft on “Loss and Damage” addresses loss and damage associated with climate change impacts in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change to enhance adaptive capacity. This means rich nations should compensate poor nations for losses due to climate change. Up to now, wealthy nations have agreed finance to help developing countries to get clean energy and adapt to climate change, but now they might accept responsibility for damage caused elsewhere due to climate change induced by their GHG emissions. "It is a breakthrough," said Martin Khor of the South Centre - an association of 52 developing nations. "The term Loss and Damage is in the text - this is a huge step in principle. Next comes the fight for cash." Whether or not this will happen remains to be seen though!
The previous UN climate meeting in Cancún recognised GHG emission reduction targets for industrialized and developing countries and countries acknowledged the need for deep cuts in global emissions in order to limit global average temperature rise to 2 °C. Parties agreed to keep the global long-term goal under regular review and to consider strengthening it during a review by 2015, including in relation to a proposed 1.5 °C target. Speaking after Doha, the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, said he believes that far more needs to be done and he calls on governments, along with businesses, civil society and citizens, to accelerate action on the ground so that the global temperatures rise can be limited to 2 °C. He said he will increase his personal involvement in efforts to raise ambition, scale-up climate financing, and engage world leaders as we now move towards the global agreement in 2015.
As expected, a lot went on outside the plenary rooms, too, with social movements making sure they were present to stand against the lack of urgency in the climate negotiations. The more people become aware of or experience the effects of climate change, the greater the presence of ordinary people at these climate conferences, and the greater the pressure they put on leaders taking part in the event, and the more people talk and blog about issues such as reducing GHG emissions and clean energy. This time there was even a march to demand real leadership to tackle climate change!
Link to an analysis of the Doha outcome by The Guardian news online.
Link to BBC News article on Doha outcome.
Link to CABI's internet resource Environmental Impact.