Bridging the gap

Climate finance in the lead up to Doha COP 18

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The best outcome for COP 18 would be a work program to achieve a new treaty in 2015.

As the 18th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) approaches, it's time to explore the potential impact and opportunities of climate negotiations for business.

Although discussions at previous COPs reached the brink of collapse, the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action signed in 2011 provided the world with a reprieve. COP 18 should at least provide stepping stones to a new international agreement, with the potential for a work program which will set out exactly how a new treaty in 2015 will be achieved.

What will Doha achieve?

There are some areas where we can expect to see action at Doha. Those which will have most impact on business are:

  • Changes to the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM): The greatest potential lies in the work on changes to the CDM. Carbon capture and storage has been included under the CDM and there is hope that movement towards the inclusion of credits under REDD+ will be made at Doha.
  • Forward movement on the Green Climate Fund: Work has started in this area, with regard to legal standing and accountability. It is hoped that the launch of a new Standing Committee on Finance, responsible for centralizing the work taking place in different areas of financing, will enable decisions to be made at Doha.
  • Extension of the Kyoto Protocol: An amendment to the Protocol is expected to be passed at Doha, enabling the treaty to be extended by a further period from next year. The Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol has created an informal text to facilitate agreement at COP 18.

Potential hurdles at COP 18

  • Agreement has been reached on a treaty affecting all countries, with “an agreed outcome with legal force,” but the details have to be clarified.
  • The expected closure of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long Term Co-operative Action in Doha could also prove politically difficult, as there is continuing debate about where responsibility for finance and scientific review should lie.
  • Current voluntary commitments fall short of the cuts required to limit global warming to a maximum of 2°C above pre-industrial times. The United Nations Environment Programme has warned that existing pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions need to double by 2020 to limit warming to this level.

Disagreements about climate finance and equity however are the real sticking points that must be resolved if progress is to be made. COP 17 saw agreement of the need to keep global temperature increase to 2°C or even 1.5°C, but no detail of how to do so in an effective, economic and fair way.

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