Doha: Week 1 wrap

As the ministers arrive in Doha there is plenty of work needed to achieve a positive outcome. But with a healthy dose of principled pragmatism, we just might get it.

The Doha Climate Summit is an implementation meeting. Agree a second round of credible Kyoto targets, conclude the political negotiations that started in Bali and set some parameters around the talks towards the new legally binding agreement in 2015.

Ministers are now arriving and they will have much to do to resolve outstanding conflicts in all of the negotiating streams.

Under Kyoto talks, a number of disagreements are going to require ministerial leadership. For example, New Zealand and Japan (with support from Australia) argue that all countries should have access to Kyoto’s carbon markets regardless of whether they have new Kyoto targets or not. This is inconsistent with the spirit of Kyoto’s rules and is being resisted by many countries.

Access to carbon markets should, in theory, be an important lever to encourage countries to participate in international agreements because of the economic benefits they bring. Casting this away in Doha should be avoided.

Under the Bali action plan, discussions progress has been slower and many issues remain outstanding. How to scale up international climate finance to help the world’s poorest countries cope with the demands of climate change is a key political issue that cuts across these negotiations. In Copenhagen, developed countries agreed to assist poor nations with $US100 billion in public and private climate finance by 2020. Since Copenhagen much as been delivered, but developing nations are seeking assurances that finance will be scaled up towards the 2020 goal.

In Durban, the European Union and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), which includes many of Australia’s Pacific neighbours, helped broker the final deal that led to the meetings significant outcomes. However, this coordination has been lacking in Doha as AOSIS continue to push on red lines that the EU can’t cross and developed nations are not delivering on some of AOSIS’ key asks. This includes, for example, the limited access to the Kyoto markets mentioned above.

This is just a snapshot of some the differences that now confront ministers. This is the time for progressive countries to work with allies to find ambitious but practical compromises. Ministers are arriving and a good outcome is possible. Principled pragmatism is the recipe for success from now in Doha.

Erwin Jackson is the Deputy CEO of The Climate Institute.