Doha climate conference closes on 'weak deal' unlikely to stem emissions
11 Dec 2012
After marathon negotiations at the weekend, the UN's 18th conference on climate change in Doha, Qatar, finally produced an agreement that would see the Kyoto Protocol continuing for a further seven years.
But the deal was denounced by climate activists as inadequate to contain global warming at 2 degrees Celsius, given that greenhouse gas emissions are likely to hit another record level this year.
Alden Meyer, director of the Washington-based Union of Concerned Scientists, said the impact of the deal - officially dubbed the "Doha Climate Gateway" - on reducing actual emissions to the atmosphere would be minimal.
'Abysmally weak deal'
"This meeting failed to deliver the goods," he said. "At the end of the day, ministers were left with two unpalatable choices: accept an abysmally weak deal, or see the talks collapse in acrimony and despair - with no clear path forward."
Although there will be a "second commitment period" for Kyoto, extending it to 2020, it will only include EU member states, Australia, Norway, Switzerland and a few other countries. Japan, Russia, Canada and New Zealand are not taking part.
Neither is the US, which spurned ratifying the protocol in 2001, or major developing countries such as India, as the protocol only applied to developed nations. As a result, "Kyoto 2" will relate to less than 15 per cent of global emissions.
The two-week round of talks in Doha, involving high-level delegates from 194 countries, ended on Saturday night when the compromise texts were gavelled through peremptorily by conference president Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah.
He overruled a last-minute objection by Russia, which was unhappy that its concerns had not been addressed. US climate envoy Todd Stern also made it clear he rejected one element of the deal, relating to "equity", but he didn't press the issue.
China's Xie Zhenhua said though he was "disappointed in certain respects" about the outcome, he was ready to accept it. He maintained it proved "the multilateral process in dealing with climate change is making progress".
Brazil described the renewal of Kyoto as the "key success" of Doha, but said the lack of ambition of developed countries was "undeniable" and their commitment to provide financial aid to enable poorer countries cope with climate change "remains elusive".