Doha: The price of Kyoto continuity

Doha has given the Kyoto Protocol ongoing life, but at a high price, with limited impact on emissions seen out to 2020. For now, unilateral action is the best hope.

The recently finished Doha climate conference agreed on a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol from 2013 to 2020 with quantified emission reduction commitments for Australia, Belarus, the EU and its member states, Kazakhstan, Monaco, Norway, Switzerland and Ukraine.

This second commitment period is a very important step for continuity, particularly for the accounting system that has established over the years – and the clean development mechanism.

However, the second commitment period will have a very limited impact on emissions by 2020 as:

-- The participation of countries with emission reduction commitments is small;

-- The reduction commitments are less ambitious than needed, but a process is foreseen that the countries increase their ambition by 2014; and

-- Allowances not used in the first commitment period can be carried over to the next commitment period where they replace actual emission reduction efforts. Countries will be able to use carried-over units to comply with their targets in the second commitment period and will be allowed to trade up to 2 per cent of these. A number of countries – Australia, the EU, Japan, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway and Switzerland – have signed a declaration that they will not purchase these units.
Continued climate financing – small steps to build trust

Climate financing is a necessary condition to implement the conditional pledges. While it is agreed that $US100 billion per year should be mobilised by 2020, the path towards it is unclear.

New pledges were made by members of the EU, but other countries have not come forward with concrete numbers.

The Doha decisions reinforce the need for a long-term plan for climate finance. It remains uncertain whether it will be sufficient in scale.
Ad-hoc Durban Platform on a slow start to raise ambition

The Ad-hoc Durban Platform discussed raising the ambition level of action before 2020, a prerequisite to still meet the 2 degree Celsius limit. It has taken its first steps to be able to tackle the issue next year with new submissions, a series of workshops and a technical paper to be discussed in September 2013.
However, after one year of negotiations the ADP has not yet taken operational decisions to increase the ambition. The risk is high that the more it waits, the fewer options left open to really close the gap.
Updates on pledges

Pledges of all major economies remained unchanged. Many had expected the host, Qatar, or some of its neighbours to come forward with a pledge, but this did not happen. Only a few countries made new pledges for emission reductions by 2020 or modified their pledge:

Monaco: Announced its unconditional target of reducing emissions by 30 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, which is ambitious.

Ukraine: Submitted a proposed target for the second commitment period, which is in line with its pledge to reduce emissions by 20 per cent below 1990 by 2020. Current emissions are around 60 per cent below 1990 levels. The target represents a substantial increase of emissions above current levels and remains inadequate.

Kazakhstan: Submitted its target in the first week of the Conference, proposing to reduce average annual emissions for the second commitment period (2013-2020) by 10 per cent below the 1990 level. Over the course of the negotiations this target was corrected upwards and now is 5 per cent. Kazakhstan’s current emissions are around 27 per cent below 1990 emissions levels. The target represents a substantial increase of emissions above current levels and remains inadequate.

Lebanon: Now officially submitted the pledge to reach 12 per cent renewable energy in the energy mix by 2020. This target was first mentioned at the Copenhagen summit in 2009. Its implementation will require a substantial effort.

Dominican Republic: Made a pledge to reduce its emissions by 25 per cent below the 2010 level in 2030. This is substantial, as it requires a reversal of the trend.
Some move faster than the official negotiations

Beside the official negotiations, many activities at the margins provide encouraging signals.

A small number of countries have made new pledges, including Monaco, Lebanon and Dominican Republic. For all of them this would be a significant deviation from past trends.

We see more and more countries are implementing national policies to meet their pledges. The pledges – though inadequate in total – have incentivised national action. There has been more action to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions than ever since the start of international climate negotiations. Focus is in particular on electricity generation from renewable energy and energy efficiency in buildings and transport.

In addition, increased activity is focussing on international initiatives that could raise the ambition level in support of – and complementary to – the emission reduction pledges under UNFCCC. Such initiatives include sectors outside of current pledges, such as international aviation, or other actors, such as cities or sub-national governments. Statements of many countries included reference to such initiatives. Two papers on the concept were discussed widely.

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