Climate Talks Dead As A Doha

Dec 11th, 2012 | By | Category: Adaptation, Advocacy, Development and Climate Change, Events, Global Warming, Health and Climate Change, International Agencies, Lessons, Mitigation, News, Opinion, Resilience, UNFCC-CoP18, UNFCCC, Vulnerability

UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, and UNFCCC executive secretary, Christiana Figueres, during an informal ministerial round table in Doha, Qatar. Photograph: UNFCCC

The Australian: WE mean no disrespect to the denizens of Doha when we say their city has become the international capital for dashed hopes.

 For 11 years, the interminable search for a new World Trade Organisation agreement has edged its way forward at a snail’s pace in what has become known as the Doha Round. Now the search for an international pact on climate change has again collided with reality after unproductive talks in the Qatar capital.

The fate of both processes underlines the difficulty of translating noble aims into binding international agreements. In fact, the quest for agreement to reduce carbon emulsions is going backwards. In 2007 in Bali, newly elected prime minister Kevin Rudd basked in the applause for ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, committing Australia to reduce its carbon emissions by 2020.

Five years on, Australia is one of just a few countries taking the process seriously. In company with the 27-member EU, Switzerland and eight other industrialised nations, we have signed up to the extension to Kyoto. This could be an uncomfortable place to be when the world’s main polluters — China, India and the US — have refused to ratify it. Accordingly, the agreement covers only 15 per cent of global emissions.

The Australian has consistently backed an economically responsible approach to climate change, but has equally cautioned against our moving ahead of the pack. As in Copenhagen three years ago, the Doha conference was derailed by the push for a redistribution of billions of dollars of wealth from the West to poor and developing countries under the guise of helping them adapt to climate change and compensate them for its effects. The US and other developed nations were never going to cave in to such extortion, nor should they.

Environmental groups claim Australia will be well placed to influence a larger agreement in 2015, but given the failures of the UN framework, a more pragmatic course, as Graham Lloyd reported last week, would see a bypassing of the UN and a resumption of negotiations in the Major Economies Forum established by John Howard and former US president George W. Bush to discuss managing greenhouse gas emissions. It included Australia, the US, China, India, Japan and South Korea. The US later expanded the group to include the large European economies.

As Alan Oxley, former ambassador to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, told The Australian, when the world got serious about climate change, the UN would be sidelined and the US would lead the withdrawal.

Free of the vested interests of bit players, a smaller forum would be better placed to agree on cutting emissions through harnessing technology and efficient market mechanisms.



Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on Mountains and Climate linked issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last five years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in the Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>

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