Doha: One Step Forward and Two Steps Backward?

Dec 24th, 2012 | By | Category: Adaptation, Advocacy, Biodiversity, Development and Climate Change, Ecosystem Functions, Energy, Environment, Events, Governance, Information and Communication, Lessons, News, Opinion, Technologies, UNFCC-CoP18, Vulnerability, Youth Speak

Ms.Suman K ASuman K Apparusu: The warmth and the hospitality of Doha are truly unforgettable! A wonderful combination of the old and new, tradition and modernity, ambition and receptivity struck me in all that I experienced during my one week sojourn of COP18 at Doha.

But as the plane touched the tarmac in India, I was left with a bewildering sense of despair and hope on the deliberations that happened there and more so their full import for the humanity and India!

While the Parties ought to have demonstrated ‘ambition’ to ‘consensus, decisions, commitments and actions ’ to a better and healthy planet, one got to see this working in most directions other than this ‘singular goal’! Be it putting the KP on ventilator, an all-out effort to avoid owning up historical responsibilities for emissions, clever re-packaging of the ODA as climate finance, slow but steady burial of the distinction of the adaptation and mitigation discourses among others.

And as was expected, India stuck to its red line stances of ‘equity’ and ‘CBDRs’; proud that it has managed to put them for the time being on the negotiation table, happy for a short term gain on GCF and CTCN Tier-II roles as opposed to a potential long term pain of a legally binding agreement that can possibly isolate it on its own hard line planks, watched with shock and awe the audacity of nation’s to tell that historical responsibility for emissions and equity are non-sellable and dated arguments, and perhaps coming to grip on the realities of the usefulness of the UNFCCC framework to negotiate its national interests in a way that also meet the ultimate humanity’s goal of live and let live!

Should India continue on this path or should it take charismatic, historical and illustrious steps forward to break this log-jam? There seems a serious case for re-think on what India wants to achieve or perhaps can do before the next COP hits it!

Two decades on, the protracted negotiations continue, emissions do not show signs of abatement, processes get labyrinthine, mechanisms of consensus turn shell while new and emerging groups of vulnerable peoples’ voices get shriller by the day to somehow take care of them through this grandiose climate and negotiations impasse!

Is climate change really about technology, finance, adaptation and mitigation, one vulnerable group or the other, getting the draft text right, cranking the PR machine to an overdrive mode, your interests and arguments versus mine, churning out more scientific evidence with various degrees of uncertainty thrown in , keeping the <2 degree debate burning  OR

Leaving this planet for its people in a habitable state and in way that our future generations feel worthy of ownership?

Surely, I touched down with a sense that there is a strong need for all involved; to revisit this entire yearly climate charade in all ways that serve the humanity in good-stead!

Now for the hope pieces; COP18 decisions to adopt gender balance, Doha work programme on Article 6 of the Convention, Momentum for Change Initiatives, Secretariat’s relentless push to hammer out solutions (against several odds) to the thorny negotiation issues through all potential means – formal and informal, Qatar State‘s bold initiative of ‘Global Dry Land Alliance’ and the unforgettable ‘Sidra’ tree that formed the centre piece of the QNCC design!

Can we get to see more of these?

Time or perhaps our respective nation states will have some answers soon…


About Author: Suman K A wrote this article for Climate Himalaya’s Youth Speak Column. An Engineer by training Suman has great interest in climate change and mountain issues. She is the founder of Change Planet Partners foundation.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of Climate Himalaya’s team.


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