Category Archives: COP18 Doha

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, Durban 2011

Doha / UN climate change talks: “Of course it’s about money, but it’s also about solidarity,” says UN expert

Representatives from 194 countries will meet in Doha from November 26 to December 7 to try, among other issues, to extend the Kyoto Protocol, the existing plan for curbing greenhouse gas emissions by developed nations that expires at the end of 2012.

“The costs of climate change to humanity cannot be covered only by accomplishing the commitments in finance for adaptation and mitigation,” warned the expert charged by the United Nations Human Rights Council to study the issue of international solidarity. “The international community must be prepared to give much more than money.”

“International solidarity can be the bridge to support nations affected by impacts of climate change, whether rich or poor,” Ms. Dandan stressed. “International solidarity on climate change is key to help building a global constituency for more equitable arrangements for climate change, particularly on investments, finance, aid, debt, technology transfer, intellectual property, migration, environment and the global partnership for development.”

The United Nations Independent Expert also called upon developed countries not to back down from their longstanding commitments, and at the same time, asked those new polluters to do their part in the process. “Most vulnerable nations cannot pay for what other nations have done or are doing today,” she noted. “In this project, we are all together.”

Ms. Dandan sees an urgent need for a new cooperation model built upon a multilateral response to the mounting challenges of climate change, guided by the human rights approach to the principles of equity and of common but differentiated responsibilities, and implemented in the spirit of international solidarity.

Climate negotiations held last year in Durban established a momentum shaped from important outcomes including the agreement for a second commitment for the Kyoto Protocol; progress on the financing tracks for transfer of technology, adaptation and mitigation with the launching of the Green Climate Fund; and the Durban Platform towards a new global legally binding agreement to be negotiated by 2015 and implemented from 2020.

However, she noted, there remains a need for implementing decisive measures to achieve financial support for developing countries that are most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change, and for deepening and reinforcing international solidarity and cooperation on all relevant issues.

“We have all witnessed in alarming frequency how, in the blink of an eye, human lives and decades of development gains can be totally wiped out, resulting in heart-breaking loss of lives, property and for many, hope for the future,” Ms. Dandan noted. “No country in the world today has been spared the effects of some form of extreme weather occurrence; not a single country can move forward in isolation.”

The expert urged those around the negotiating table in Doha “to focus their hearts and minds on their families and communities back home, as well as on the rest of the human family, whose very right to life is at stake on that table and whose common present and future, are in their hands.”

“We need world leaders with the courage to rise above narrow political and economic self-interest, towards fulfilling the promise of sustainable development made in Rio+20, and the eradication of poverty that is both the cause and effect of deeply entrenched inequalities and human rights deprivations particularly of the most marginalized and vulnerable,” the Independent Expert underscored.

In her view, the positive achievements reached in Durban last year must move forward in Doha to bring the climate negotiations back on track for a new global deal to take full effect in 2020 at the very latest. “Clearly, the continued rise in greenhouse gas emissions must be reversed to slow climate change and climate change must be addressed through international law,” she said.

The expert urged parties not to abandon the Kyoto Protocol, and not to allow the expiration of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action without a clear transfer of unresolved issues linked to the principles of equity and of common, but differentiated responsibilities, while taking into full account, the standards enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“What happens to one of us, happens to all of us. We are all in this together,” Ms. Dandan reiterated.

Press Conference: Mrs. Christiana Figueres, Executive Director of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

UNFCCC Executive Secretary: Doha’s COP18/CMP8 climate change conference must deliver objectives to speed up inadequate climate action

“Doha is as important as any COP before it. Governments have agreed it is imperative to stay at least below a two degree average global temperature rise to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. But they know this cannot be achieved without further dramatic transformation in energy production and use, and without effective support to developing nations so they can build their own sustainable futures,” said Ms Figueres.
“A faster response to climate change is necessary and possible, both in terms of the international policy response and increasing action at national and sub-national policy level and from global business. Doha must make sure the response is accelerated,” the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary said.

In Doha, governments are expected to usher in a renewed commitment under the Kyoto Protocol, move the broad infrastructure of support they have been building for action in the developing world into firm implementation, and decide how to resolve policy issues that remain outstanding under the UN Climate Change Convention (see below for further details).

Governments will also decide how to stick to the task and timetable they set themselves to reach an effective, fair and ambitious universal climate agreement that is to be adopted in 2015 and to enter into force from 2020, and to raise the current inadequate global ambition to address climate change and its impacts before 2020. In addition, countries meeting in Doha need to reach a better understanding on how to mobilize long-term finance to support action in developing nations, which they have agreed must reach a level of USD 100 billion a year by 2020.

Ms. Figueres said that whilst in many cases climate change solutions are already being
integrated and implemented into national policies and business plans, efforts to implement the global clean technology and sustainability revolution must urgently speed up so that the world has a chance of staying below a two degree temperature rise.

“We need to clearly acknowledge the gap between what countries have pledged to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions and what is required to stay below this temperature rise, beyond which more severe climate impacts occur,” she said.

“The necessary technology and policy tools are available to governments and societies, but time is very short – only 36 months to reach a universal agreement before 2015. What we now need is to urgently implement the decisions that have been taken at the inter-governmental level and to further strengthen actions already under way,” she said.

As examples of momentum for change which is already building at all levels of society, and to highlight the scope for action, the UNFCCC secretariat will be showcasing so-called “lighthouse activities” in Doha. These are prime examples of public-private climate initiatives in developing countries which have already improved the lives of the urban poor, and which can inspire governments and businesses to do more. Two further pillars of the secretariat’s Momentum for Change Initiative will be launched during the conference – one highlighting the role of women in providing solutions to climate change, and the other drawing attention to innovative approaches to climate finance.

The UN Climate Change Conference in Doha is to be presided over by H.E. Abdullah bin
Hamad Al-Attiyah, Chairman of Qatar’s Administrative Control and Transparency Authority, who is expected to be elected COP President on the first day of the meeting.

More than 100 Ministers are scheduled to attend the high-level segment of the meeting, which begins on 4 December and ends with a decision-making plenary on 7 December.
The opening of the high-level segment will also be attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The conference will be attended by government delegates, representatives from business and industry, environmental organizations, research institutions and the media. UNFCCC COPs are both inter-governmental negotiating forums, and a key opportunity for all stakeholders to exchange information and ideas in order to help build momentum for action on climate change. To this end, a plethora of side events and exhibits will be organized on the margins of the meeting.

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New Finance Models to address Climate Change

The initiative will inform governments, investors, business, public finance agencies and the media about practical ways and means to enable a global shift to environmentally and economically sustainable growth. It will be formally launched on 6 December during the United Nations Climate Change Conference, taking place in Doha, Qatar, from 26 November to 7 December.  

“It is clear that the private sector needs to deliver significant investments to put the world on a path to a climate-secure future,” said Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC Executive Secretary. “However, given the scale of investment needed, the newness of technology solutions and the perception of risk that exists, the current level of investment is far too low.  The public sector can help to unlock private finance and ensure supportive policy frameworks for climate-friendly investment.”

“Momentum for Change: Innovative Financing for Climate-friendly Investment” builds upon the results of the larger Momentum for Change initiative by the United Nations Climate Change secretariat, which was launched at last year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, to highlight public-private partnerships that are addressing climate change, and have the potential to be expanded and replicated. 

“The World Economic Forum is pleased to be working with the United Nations Climate Change secretariat to help document and share successful public-private models that deliver innovative finance to address climate change, one of the most pressing global challenges that we face,” added Børge Brende, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum.  

The initiative will also benefit from the World Economic Forum’s Green Growth Action Alliance, which includes over 50 of the world’s largest energy companies, international financial institutions and development finance banks working to deliver greater investments into clean energy, transportation, agriculture and other green investments.   

Developing countries are forecast to represent over 60% of global GDP by 2030. However, given growing environmental and resource challenges such as climate change and water security, the imperative for shifting development onto a resource-efficient growth pathway is increasingly clear. Governments can use strategically targeted public monies and policies to address the risks faced by private investors, resulting in a significant increase in private capital flows for climate-friendly development. 

Journalists accredited to the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha are invited to the launch event of the partnership on 6 December at 13.00 at the Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha.

The new initiative will be delivered in collaboration with the Green Growth Action Alliance, launched at the 2012 G20 Summit with Mexican President Felipe Calderón as Chair and the World Economic Forum as secretariat. 


UN Climate Change Conference in Doha kicks off with calls to implement agreed decisions, stick to agreed tasks and timetable

The newly elected President of the Conference of the Parties (COP 18/CMP 8), H. E. Mr. Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Chairman of Qatar’s Administrative Control and Transparency Authority, urged the conference to stick to agreed timetables and speedily implement already agreed decisions.

“Climate change is a common challenge for humanity. We must work in earnest for a better future for present and for future generations. We have a precious opportunity over the coming days, and we must make full use of it. Many delegates have stressed the importance of finalizing work on time, and that requires that we all show flexibility,” he said.

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),  highlighted an important set of reports published shortly before Doha, which all point to the urgency to act to keep global average temperatures from rising beyond an internationally agreed level of 2 degrees Celsius degrees centigrade, beyond which climate impacts become extremely serious.

Analysis published by the World Bank shows the world remains firmly at risk of seeing temperatures rise towards 4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, creating devastating effects, if current levels of ambition to curb greenhouse gas emissions are not raised.

The World Meteorological Organization says greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere have reached yet another record high at 390.9 parts per million, with no identified change in the upwards trend. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) warns that the gap between what is needed in terms of emission reductions to stay below 2 degrees Celsius and what is so far promised by countries is still widening, not decreasing.

However, all reports underline that the technology, the funding and the policy options to remain below the 2 degrees Celsius goal are already available, provided that governments and societies take the necessary action rapidly enough.

“Expert analysis consistently says that we do have the possibility to keep on track and that to act now is safer and much less costly than to delay. In the last three years, policy and action towards a sustainable, clean energy future has been growing faster than ever. But the door is closing fast because the pace and scale of action is simply not yet enough. So Doha must deliver its part in the longer-term solution,” the UN’s top climate change official Christiana Figueres said.

“Governments have said they intend to work hard to advance their decision texts before the high-level segment, so they can hand over a very limited set of options to ministers and close successfully at the end of next week,” she said.

For an overview of the issues being discussed and negotiated in Doha, see below.

The UN Climate Change Conference in Doha (26 November to 7 December) is currently being attended by government delegates, representatives from business and industry, environmental organizations, research institutions and the media. More than 100 Ministers are scheduled to attend the high-level segment of the meeting, which begins on 4 December and ends with a decision-making plenary on 7 December. The opening of the high-level segment will also be attended by
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

As examples of  momentum for change which is already building at all levels of society, and to highlight the scope for action, the UNFCCC secretariat will be showcasing so-called “lighthouse activities” in Doha. These are prime examples of public-private climate initiatives in developing countries which have already improved the lives of the urban poor, and which can inspire governments and businesses to do more. Two further pillars of the secretariat’s Momentum for Change Initiative will be launched during the conference – one highlighting the role of women in providing solutions to climate change, and the other drawing attention to innovative approaches to climate finance.

The key objectives that governments have set themselves for COP 18 in Doha

1) To ensure the seamless continuation of the Kyoto Protocol as of 1 January 2013

The Kyoto Protocol is the only existing and binding agreement under which developed countries commit to cutting greenhouse gases. The treaty underwrites international political trust that developed nations remain responsible to lead emission cuts, and it preserves the important accounting and legal systems inside the Protocol as working models which may inform future agreements.

Key issues under the Protocol that need to be decided in Doha include:

(a)    the length of the second commitment period and how to convert targets into so-called “quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives” (QELROs), the unit of binding reduction commitments.
(b)    the legal formulation of the amendment to the Protocol, including how to carry over unused emission credits of economies in transition into the second phase of the Protocol.

2) To plan the work under the Durban Platform

Given that much more effort will be needed to cut emissions than is captured under the many existing national pledges to cut and limit emissions, governments decided last year in Durban to reach a universal climate change agreement covering all countries from 2020, to be adopted by 2015, and to find concrete ways before 2020 to increase efforts beyond the existing pledges. In Doha, their objective is to plan the work so that:

a)    this task is delivered and the timetable is met.
b)    different national circumstances are addressed in an effective, fair, ambitious agreement.
3) To complete the Bali Action Plan

Governments decided in Durban at the end of last year to complete the 2007 Bali Action Plan, covering the areas of mitigation (curbing greenhouse gas emissions), adaptation to climate change, and the finance, technology and capacity-building which developing countries require to build their low-emission, climate-resilient futures.
In Doha, governments need to decide which elements of the Bali Action Plan have been achieved and/or implemented, what additional decisions can be taken in Doha and which elements may need to continue to be further addressed.

4) To complete new infrastructure and chart the way forward on long-term climate finance

Governments are presently completing the new infrastructure to channel technology and finance to developing nations and have agreed to move toward the full implementation of this infrastructure and support in Doha. This includes:

a)    endorsing the decision on the location of the Green Climate Fund and the work plan of the newly established Standing Committee on Finance.
b)    formally deciding on the location and mode of operation of the Technology Mechanism’s Climate Technology Center and Network.

Other key issues and expected results at Doha


•    Governments will look at ways to further strengthen the adaptive capacities of the most vulnerable, also through better planning. A particular focus will be on better protection against loss and damage caused by slow onset events such as rising sea levels.

•    The Adaptation Committee, composed of 16 members, will report to the COP on its efforts to improve the coordination of adaptation actions at a global scale.

Support of developing country action

•    Governments are to complete a registry to record developing country mitigation actions that seek recognition or financial support. The registry will be a flexible, dynamic, web-based platform.

Actions on forests

•    In Doha, governments will take work forward to measure deforestation, and to ensure that efforts to fight deforestation are supported.

Carbon Capture and Storage

•    Ways to ensure the effectiveness and environmental integrity of projects under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism that capture and store carbon emissions will be considered in Doha.


•    Governments will further consider the crucial role of agriculture in the global effort to adapt to climate change and curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Development and transfer of technology

•    Countries meeting in Doha are to take forward work on enabling the development and transfer of technologies that can help developing countries adapt and curb their emissions.

Avoiding negative consequences of climate action

•    In some cases, the implementation of actions that reduce emissions could result in negative economic or social consequences for other countries. In Doha, governments will discuss measures to address such consequences in a special forum.

The seven negotiating bodies and groups  meeting in Doha

COP – Conference of the Parties. This body is the decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It meets annually.

CMP – Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. As the Protocol’s top body; it meets annually at the same time as the COP and takes decisions on the Protocol.

AWG-KP – The Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol. This group focuses on negotiating the further legally-binding commitments for industrialized countries beyond 2012.

AWG-LCA – The Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action. This group was established in Bali in 2007 to conduct negotiations on a strengthened international deal on climate change, which was to be concluded at COP 15 in Copenhagen in 2009. The work of the AWG-LCA has been extended three times by a year since COP 15 and is now set to conclude in Doha.

AWG-ADP – The Ad hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action. This group is to agree a binding international climate change agreement in 2015, to enter into force from 2020. It is also to agree ways to raise the global level of ambition to curb greenhouse gases before 2020 so that the world has a chance of staying below the agreed 2 degrees Celsius maximum temperature rise.

SBSTA – Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice. This body serves as a link between information and assessments provided by expert sources (such as the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, responsible for compiling the world’s government-approved science) and the COP, which focuses on setting policy.

SBI – Subsidiary Body for Implementation. The SBI makes recommendations on policy and implementation issues to the COP and, if requested, to other bodies.


Greenhouse Gas Emissions Gap Widening as Nations Head to Crucial Climate Talks in Doha

The Emissions Gap Report, coordinated by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the European Climate Foundation, and released days before the convening of the Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Doha, shows that greenhouse gas emissions levels are now around 14 per cent above where they need to be in 2020.

Instead of declining, concentration of warming gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) are actually increasing in the atmosphere-up around 20 per cent since 2000.

If no swift action is taken by nations, emissions are likely to be at 58 gigatonnes (Gt) in eight years’ time, says the report which has involved 55 scientists from more than 20 countries.

This will leave a gap that is now bigger than it was in earlier UNEP assessments of 2010 and 2011 and is in part as a result of projected economic growth in key developing economies and a phenomenon known as ‘double counting’ of emission offsets.

Previous assessment reports have underlined that emissions need to be on average at around 44 Gt or less in 2020 to lay the path for the even bigger reductions needed at a cost that is manageable.

The Emissions Gap Report 2012 points out that even if the most ambitious level of pledges and commitments were implemented by all countries-and under the strictest set of rules-there will now be a gap of 8 Gt of CO2 equivalent by 2020.

This is 2 Gt higher than last year’s assessment with yet another year passing by.

Preliminary economic assessments, highlighted in the new report, estimate that inaction will trigger costs likely to be at least 10 to 15 per cent higher after 2020 if the needed emission reductions are delayed into the following decades.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: “There are two realities encapsulated in this report-that bridging the gap remains do-able with existing technologies and policies; that there are many inspiring actions taking place at the national level on energy efficiency in buildings, investing in forests to avoid emissions linked with deforestation and new vehicle emissions standards alongside a remarkable growth in investment in new renewable energies worldwide, which in 2011 totaled close to US$260 billion”.

“Yet the sobering fact remains that a transition to a low carbon, inclusive Green Economy is happening far too slowly and the opportunity for meeting the 44 Gt target is narrowing annually,” he added.

“While governments work to negotiate a new international climate agreement to come into effect in 2020, they urgently need to put their foot firmly on the action pedal by fulfilling financial, technology transfer and other commitments under the UN climate convention treaties. There are also a wide range of complementary voluntary measures that can that can bridge the gap between ambition and reality now rather than later,” said Mr. Steiner.

The report estimates that there are potentially large emissions reductions possible-in a mid-range of 17 Gt of CO2 equivalents-from sectors such as buildings, power generation and transport that can more than bridge the gap by 2020.

Meanwhile, there are abundant examples of actions at the national level in areas ranging from improved building codes to fuel standards for vehicles which, if scaled up and replicated, can also assist.

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said, “This report is a reminder that time is running out, but that the technical means and the policy tools to allow the world to stay below a maximum 2 degrees Celsius are still available to governments and societies”.

“Governments meeting in Doha for COP18 now need to urgently implement existing decisions which will allow for a swifter transition towards a low-carbon and resilient world. This notably means amending the Kyoto Protocol, developing a clear vision of how greenhouse gases can be curbed globally before and after 2020, and completing the institutions required to help developing countries green their economies and adapt, along with defining how the long-term climate finance that developing countries need can be mobilized. In addition, governments need to urgently identify how ambition can be raised, “added Ms. Figueres.

Bridging the Gap

The report looked at sectors where the necessary emissions reductions may be possible by 2020.

Improved energy efficiency in industry could deliver cuts of between 1.5 to 4.6 Gt of CO2 equivalent; followed by agriculture, 1.1 to 4.3 Gt; forestry 1.3 to 4.2 Gt; the power sector, 2.2 to 3.9 Gt; buildings 1.4 to 2.9 Gt; transportation including shipping and aviation 1.7 to 2.5 Gt and the waste sector around 0.8 Gt.


The report points out that some sectors have even bigger potential over the long term-boosting the energy efficiency of buildings, for example, could deliver average reductions of around 2.1 Gt by 2020 but cuts of over 9Gt CO₂ equivalent by 2050.

“This implies that by 2050 the building sector could consume 30 per cent less electricity compared to 2005 despite a close to 130 per cent projected increase in built floor area over the same period,” it says.

The report concludes that if this is to happen, “state of the art building codes may need to become mandatory in the next 10 years in all of the major economies such as the United States, India, China and the European Union”.

Further emission reductions are possible from more energy efficient appliances and lighting systems. The report cites Japan’s Top Runner Programme and the Ecodesign Directive of the European Union which have triggered household electricity consumption savings of 11 per cent and 16 per cent respectively.

It also cites Ghana’s standards and labelling programme for air conditioners which is set to save consumers and businesses an estimated US$64 million annually in reduced energy bills and around 2.8 million tonnes of CO₂ equivalent over 30 years.

Sustainable Transportation

Potential emissions reductions from the transportation sector are assessed at 2 Gt of CO₂ equivalent by 2020.

The report notes that there is already a shift with the eight biggest multilateral development banks at the recent Rio+20 Summit pledging US$175 billion over the next decade for measures such as bus rapid transport systems.

The report recommends the “Avoid, Shift and Improve’ polices and measures that encourage improved land planning and alternative mobility options such as buses, cycling and walking above the private car alongside better use of rail freight and inland waterways.

Combinations of improved vehicle standards and scrappage schemes for old vehicles can also assist. The report says approved and proposed new standards in seven countries ranging from Australia and China to the European Union, the Republic of Korea and the United States are expected to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of new light-duty vehicles by over 50 per cent by 2025 from 2000 levels.


“Although it remained under-utilized, “avoided deforestation” is considered a low cost greenhouse gas emissions reductions option,” says the report.

Policies to assist in reducing deforestation and, thus, greenhouse gas emissions, include establishing protected areas such as national parks to economic instruments such as taxes, subsidies and payments for ecosystem services.

The report cites Brazil where a combination of conservation policies allied to falls in agricultural commodity prices has led to a decrease in deforestation by three quarters since 2004 avoiding 2.8 Gt of CO₂ equivalent between 2006 and 2011.

Protected areas in Costa Rica now represent over as fifth of its territory, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and triggering a rise in tourists from just under 390,000 in 1988 to 2.5 million in 2008: tourism now accounts for around 15 per cent of GDP.

These actions by Brazil and Costa Rica predate Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD or REDD+) policies under the UN Convention for Combating Climate Change.

The report indicates that scaled-up action under, for example, the UN-REDD initiative which is working with over 40 countries, can provide even larger emission reductions while generating additional benefits such as jobs in natural resource management.