UNFCCC's Doha Climate Summit Updates

Rixa Schwarz and Praveen Prakash work with CEE in the Sustainable Business and Climate Change group. Rixa has been following the UNFCCC negotiations since several years and attended COP18 in Doha working on the issue of climate equity as well as climate change education for sustainability. Praveen provides advisory services to industries on climate change, emission reduction and GHG accounting. He specializes in climate change; adaptation and mitigation; compliance mechanisms, monitoring and evaluation and development of carbon credits.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process was highly and rightly so criticised internationally for its extremely slow progress after it completed its 18th Conference of the Parties (COP18) in Doha, Qatar in December 2012. COP18 could be considered a ‘follow-up event’ as COP17 a year ago in Durban, South Africa, had taken important decisions which the Doha Summit took next steps upon. Countries had decided in Durban in 2011 to present a new comprehensive climate deal until 2015 - a deal which should include action on emission reduction by all countries and enable developing countries to act on adaptation and mitigation by ‘northern’ support in terms of finance, technology cooperation and capacity building. This had been a major procedural success after the failure of the Copenhagen Summit in 2009 which had a similar goal. Now, at COP18 in Doha the next organisational steps were taken in order to allow negotiations towards the 2015 deal. In brief:

  1.     The second commitment period ofthe Kyoto Protocol for greenhousegas (GHG) emission reduction from industrialized countries was established and
  2.     The remaining negotiation track for long- term cooperative action was closed in order to continue negotiations in one single track, the so-called Durban Platform for Enhanced Action. This was the very minimum that observing NGOs had expected to happen - and in fact, not much more was agreed in Doha, especially not on content. The urgently needed ‘ambition’ to act on climate change could not be witnessed. No emission reduction targets were raised, no sums of climate funding not even close to what is required were even promised.
Despite valid doubts about the UNFCCC process’ progress, structure and minimal results while global GHG emissionsand temperature rise grow at a never experienced pace one needs to recognize the importance of UNFCCC. The climate convention is the only forum that gives all countries a voice and seeks to operate under equity principles.

The two small success stories of Doha: ESD and gender equality

Most relevant for the education scene is the adoption of the Doha work programme on education. The Delhi working programme on education, training and communication of 2002 was after a review process replaced by the eight-year Doha work programme for continued work on climate change education as suggested by Article 6 of the Convention. This new programme includes measures on six elements: education, training, public awareness, public participation, public accessto information, and international cooperation. Moreover, at Doha, the UN Alliance on Climate Change Education, Training and Public Awareness was launched where amongst others UNESCO, UNEP, FAO and WMO are partnering lead by the UNFCCC secretariat to implement the work programme. Other actors like NGOs, academia and the private sector are to support the implementation with the continuity of their existing activities and further regional and international cooperation. For further details visit www.ccleearn.net.

The second off-side but significant success of Doha is the so called miracle of Doha - the agreement on gender equality. The decision to promote “gender balance and improved participation of women in UNFCCC negotiations and in the representation of Parties in bodies established pursuant to the Convention or the Kyoto Protocol” was one of the few items happily adopted in the late night plenary. The next COP, to be held in November 2013 in Warsaw, Poland, will hopefully deliver bigger success stories.

For more information contact:
rixa.schwarz@ceeindia.org or praveen.prakash@ceeindia.org

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