Doha climate talks reach weak commitment

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United Nations climate talks in Doha on Saturday adopted a package of drafts of low-ambitious second period of Kyoto Protocol and weak commitment on climate finance after overnight negotiations over differences between developed and developing countries.

The closure of the two-week meeting in the Qatari capital was delayed for a whole day as diplomats from more than 190 countries pressed for any small progress that can be reached.

The conference president Abdullah bin Hamad al-Atiiyah said the agreement on the Kyoto Protocol would apply from 2013 till 2020. The treaty is the only UN plan that obliges developed nations to cut carbon emissions. Its first commitment period expires by the end of the year.

But Russian delegate Oleg Shamanov said that Russia, along with Belarus and Ukraine, opposed the decision to extend the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012 and noted it retained the right to appeal the president's action.

The treaty is a vital step towards a new global UN deal to be agreed upon in 2015 and to enter into force from 2020.

The European Union-led group including Australia pledged to join the second period of the Kyoto Protocol, while the United States, Japan, Canada and Russia, among others, insisted on keeping away from the treaty despite international criticism.

No tougher emission reduction goals were announced by the developed countries in Doha, the Qatari capital, although they were urged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25 percent to 40 percent below 1990 by 2020.

The EU sticks to its target of 20 percent reduction, reiterating that a further step to 30 percent would require other developed countries' commitment to comparable emission reductions. Its bargaining position was weakened because it has reportedly met its targets of 20 percent eight years ahead of time and has no plans to put more ambitious cuts on the table.

More disappointingly, the United States said it could only cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels, which corresponds to a cut of 3 percent to 4 percent below the 1990 levels. Australia proposed a 0.5 percent emission cut from 1990.

The meeting requested developed countries to submit information by 2014 about their progress towards achieving quantified emission limitation and the potential for increasing ambition.

The EU, Australia, Japan, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway and Switzerland made their respective political declarations that they will not purchase the assigned amount units (AAUs) carried over from the first commitment period.

Greenhouse gas emissions are set to rise 2.6 percent this year, and are more than 50 percent higher than in 1990.

"We see the agreement of KP (Kyoto Protocol) second commitment period, this is our main objective this is our key success," said the Brazilian delegate. "The Kyoto protocol is more than a document. It expressed the conviction that climate change demands a rules-based approach. The KP is the standard of environment integrity, even for those parties who decide not to join it or to leave it."

Delegates from Swaziland, on behalf of the African group, said the protocol is too weak, but it provides a legal framework. "

For Gambia, one of the world's least developed country, the treaty lacks ambitions in the adaptation and mitigation as well as finance.

"We urge all developed country parties to improve their pledges. We welcome the adoption of the amendment of the KP 2 and appreciate the political efforts make by all parties," the delegate said.

On the issue of how the developed world help developing countries respond to climate change, European countries including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark have announced to provide financial assistance worth several billion euros, although the amount is far from enough.

The developing nations complained that large promises of money from rich donors have not materialized. Developed countries have pledged 30 billion U.S. dollars called "Fast Start" fund from 2010 to 2012, and a scale-up of the aid to 100 billion dollars per year by 2020.

But no agreement or timetable turned up at the Doha talks on how to bridge the funding gap from next year, with the United States, Europe and other developed nations citing economic slowdown as the excuse for refusal to provide more.

The agreement merely "extends the work program of long-term finance for one year to the end of 2013."

The deal urged additional country parties to announce climate finance pledges "when their financial circumstances permit," and encouraged developed countries to provide resources of at least the average annual level of the "Fast Start" finance period.

That indicates only 10 billion dollars of climate fund is available every year, which is only half of the amount proposed by developing countries between 2013 and 2015.

The Group 77 and China have proposed that developed countries raise 20 billion dollars per year between 2013 and 2015 for " medium-term" climate fund as the long-term finance falls into uncertainty in the wake of global economic downturn.

Some developed countries gave vaguely assurances that the climate finance will continue, which means nothing, said Tim Gore with Oxfam International.

"It's betrayal to the commitment they made in Copenhagen to stand with poorest countries ... The decision here in Doha made it harder, hard for families to put the food on the table for their children. That's the cruel reality," Gore said.

"Developed countries remain losers. They are not taking the lead," said the Brazilian delegate. "They are not leading in mitigation, they lack the ambitions ... they are shifting their burden, the developed countries should take the lead. This is unacceptable."

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