COP18 - Doha 2012: Day 5, 6 & 7 of the Conference

by Reed Smith
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[authors: Peter Zaman, Nicholas Rock, Pryderi Diebschlag]

Introduction

The prospect of having nothing clearly agreed after a week of negotiations seemed to hang over proceedings on Friday 30 November 2012. However, as the sun set on Saturday 1 December 2012, the delegates’ motivation began to increase and the early hours of Sunday morning saw genuine progress made before the delegates enjoyed a break on Sunday 2 December 2012.

Definitions of terms used in this and our previous daily Doha conference reports can be found at the link in the left-hand margin.

The Doha Conference: Day Five and Six

Friday and Saturday both began with the usual array of contact group meetings and spin-off sessions, although the evenings were marked by informal round-up sessions at which the Chairs of each working group updated the parties on their progress to date. In plenary session the parties were encouraged to reflect on the progress, or lack thereof, during the past few days. The effects of this exercise are reflected in the generally productive outcomes from the SBI and SBSTA work streams which closed following Saturday’s session.

COP

Once again, climate finance was the dominant topic of discussion, and a draft discussion paper was produced to the group that considered the implementation, mobilisation, tracking and scaling up of finance, assessment of needs and the development of an enabling environment. Discussions will continue of course, and the value of the paper must be tempered by the confirmation that it should not be seen as the basis for any decisions.

AWG-LCA

Initially the focus of discussion was on mitigation measures, both for developing and developed countries. As to developed countries, discussion was directed at clarifying the assumptions which underlie each country’s commitments. Norway, with the support of Australia, Canada and the U.S. amongst others, proposed a new work programme (running until 2014) to assess these assumptions and establish a common accounting framework and methodology to enable the valid comparison of achievements. The Environmental Integrity Group (“EIG”), comprised of Mexico, the Republic of Korea and Switzerland also proposed an additional work programme that would consider the assumptions which underlie aspects such as the market mechanisms and LULUCF. New Zealand took a pragmatic approach, noting that agreement on accounting principles would not occur in Doha. Nevertheless, a draft paper on these proposals will be produced with a view to driving forward agreement on this.

Mirroring the COP, finance was again on the agenda, with the G-77/China tabling a proposal which seeks to address the financial uncertainty between 2013 and 2020 by requiring a further commitment for Annex I countries to provide a further US $60 billion by 2015, with most of this flowing from public (rather than private) sources. The U.S., Canada, EU, Russian Federation and Japan have all opposed any requirement for additional funding, stating that targets are in place for 2020 and that discussion of this point is not required in the LCA working group.

In the round-up session, Chair Tayeb’s appraisal of the situation acknowledged the significant divergence between parties’ views and hinted that, as predicted, any measurable convergence of opinion should only be expected once the ministers for the respective countries arrive. Broadly speaking, the developed countries continue to argue for the closure of the LCA work stream (whether or not all elements of the Bali Action Plan have been performed), whilst developing countries would like to see it reach a conclusion on each issue under its mandate. Nevertheless, the parties do appear to have agreed that informal notes, prepared by the spin-off groups, would be helpful for clarifying those issues where agreement is not currently possible, allowing efforts to be channelled into more productive discussions.

AWG-KP

A draft CMP decision was offered for discussion, covering aspects such as the duration of the second commitment period and eligibility for participation in the flexible mechanisms such as the CDM. Progress of substance on this paper should only be expected towards the end of the second week of the conference. Optimistically, Chair Diouf suggested that agreement may be possible by Wednesday.

AWG-DP

There was a broad consensus that any new agreement in 2015 should continue the principles which underpin the Kyoto Protocol, especially transparency and accountability. Two voices raised notes of caution, with China arguing that developing countries should not be re-categorised as developed, and Bolivia again pointing out that climate change is only one of many priorities for less developed nations. Chair Mauskar described the working group discussions as positive, and in light of the on-going discussions, many parties supported preparation of a timetable for additional meetings, with multiple stakeholders, throughout 2013. A draft text for this should be presented and discussed on day 8 (3 December 2012).

SBI / SBSTA

With the end of its COP schedule in sight, the SBSTA announced at the close of business on Friday that they had concluded their discussions with regard to response measures, carbon capture and storage and hydrofluorocarbons. However, further discussion was required as to agriculture and methodological guidance for REDD+. Similarly, the SBI announced the conclusion of their work on adaptation measures, but that there is still work to be done on the Adaptation Fund and the NAMA registry (something that may be transferred to the AWG-LCA), while progress has essentially stalled as to technology transfer and national adaptation plans.

Despite these outstanding issues, and potentially as a sign of things to come, both work streams finally closed in the early hours of Sunday morning. The parties adopted numerous draft decisions which will be passed to the COP for consideration and further debate in the remaining days of the conference. Given their draft, non-binding, nature, these are not listed here and will be reported on more fully as and when they are considered by the COP/CMP.

The discussions as to Articles 3.14 and 2.3 of the Kyoto Protocol (relating to the impact of the implementation of response measures under the Convention), and decision 1/CP.10 (the Buenos Aires programme of work on adaptation and response measures) could not be completed, and will be picked up again at the next session of the SBI (subsequent to this Doha conference). In addition, the SBSTA was unable to complete its consultations with regard to HCF-22 and HFC-23, agriculture, and REDD+ (where in fact agreement was reached, albeit limited to an agreement to disagree).

Conclusions

At the end of the first week the delegates are beginning to find their feet. The battle lines have been drawn around the survival of the LCA work group, the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol and the levels of financing to be provided by developed countries.

Some progress has clearly been made in spin-off sessions and contact groups, with draft papers being passed to the COP for decisions in plenary, but many other matters have been set aside due to almost “irreconcilable differences”. Of those that have been passed to the COP, we await the arrival of the Ministers of the relevant delegations so that, hopefully, more substantial progress can be made.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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