Doha: Progress or Failure?

ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS have reacted angrily to the “failure” that was the Doha climate talks, while the UK Government has called the agreement “a step forward”. Most agree, however, that the progress was modest, with a mismatch between the scale and the urgency of action required and the political will and ambition.


“This year we got a shamefully weak deal, one that is so far from the science that it should raise ethical issues for those responsible,” said Samantha Smith, leader of the global climate and energy initiative of WWF.


“A weak and dangerously ineffectual agreement is nothing but a polluters charter – it legitimises a do nothing approach whilst creating a mirage that governments are acting in the interests of the planet and its people,” added Asad Rehman, head of climate change and energy at Friends of the Earth.


PwC director of sustainability and climate change, Jonathan Grant said governments in Doha achieved little more than was expected: “The really contentious issues of financing and ambitious action were postponed.”


A continuation of the Kyoto Protocol, which was due to expire at the end of 2012, was actually agreed until 2020. However, fewer countries are involved, and those that have agreed to it account for just 15% of global emissions.


The EU and Australia are in, for instance, but Canada is not. The latter, according to the WWF, was one of “the worst in the negotiations”. The US was also believed to be hindering progress at every opportunity. The EU is also well on track to meet its emissions targets and could do so “with their eyes closed” according to WWF’s Smith.


As for what the deal will look like, that’s unclear. But it’s called the “Doha climate gateway” and a significant number of workshops and meetings will be held in 2013 to prepare the new agreement.


Developed countries also reiterated their commitment to deliver on long-term climate finance support to developing nations, with a view to providing $100bn for adaptation and mitigation by 2020. But again the detail is lacking.


?“Rarely has so little been achieved by so many powerful people gathered together in one place,” said Friends of the Earth executive director Andy Atkins. “The failure to agree any meaningful international action to slash emissions leaves the world teetering on the edge of catastrophic climate change.?? People in Britain won’t escape the impacts of climate change – we must step up pressure on the Government to show international leadership by setting science-based targets to decarbonise our economy.”?


In his statement, climate change secretary Ed Davey said: “It was never going to be a major breakthrough meeting, but I am pleased to say that, following two weeks of intense negotiations, the UK’s objectives this year were largely achieved.


“Overall, the Doha conference represents a useful step forward. It has re-affirmed the commitment to a 2015 global agreement, given space and a process for focus on raising shorter term ambition, and preserved the Kyoto Protocol and a wider rules based system that will help form the foundations of the new agreement.


“We continue to have much to do. Doha has kept the forward momentum that has been a feature of this process since the difficulties at Copenhagen in 2009. But we need to take significant further action globally, and urgently, if we are to stand any chance of limiting global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.”