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Warning of ‘zombie outcome’ to climate talks

Friday, December 7, 2012

Doha—The lack of political energy and dynamism on key issues including finance at the ongoing UN Climate Change conference could result in a “zombie outcome.”


Liz Gallagher, senior policy adviser from E3G, said the shape of a deal was starting to emerge with consensus being sought around the crunch issues on the Kyoto Protocol, which commits developed countries to deeply cut emissions, expected to start on January 1, 2013, but that the long-term cooperative track (LCA) was a mess.


The LCA track of negotiations came out of the Bali Action Plan and deals with many of the issues not covered under the Kyoto Protocol including mitigation pledges, adaptation and finance. “The disorder in the LCA track jeopardises the entire Doha deal as well as progress towards an inclusive treaty in 2015,” Gallagher said yesterday.


“We run the risk of having a zombie outcome here in Doha...This is an urgent plea to ministers to roll up their sleeves and start driving the UN talks forward,” she said. Steve Herz, from the Sierra Club said the main blockage in the LCA was climate finance, which was crucial to achieving a deal acceptable to the countries most vulnerable to climate change.


The US, he said, is trying to prevent discussion on how the countries would get to the US$100 billion a year target under the Green Climate Fund which was still in its infancy stage. “The US risks snatching defeat from the jaws of victory if it keeps blocking action on finance in these talks because it risks bringing down the Durban Platform for a new deal which Washington fought so hard for last year,” Herz added.


The Qatari presidency at the UN climate talks also came in for harsh criticism for its weak leadership in failing to get firm decisions from the negotiators.


Wael Hmaidan, director of Climate Action Network-International, said the Qatari presidency needs to show leadership and help ministers finalise a deal in Doha that sees countries reduce their carbon emissions more quickly and provides adequate finance to help poorer countries deal with climate change in the next few years.


The climate talks—the first in the Middle East—are at a crucial juncture with key elements stalling despite the arrival of ministers this week. “Qatari political leadership has so far failed to materialise but there are two days left of the negotiations, so Qatar needs to, today, pledge to reduce carbon emissions, put money for climate finance on the table in order to lift the political energy in the talks,” Hmaidan said.


As the UN climate talks entered their final days, six of the largest and most respected environmental and development organisations in the world issued an emergency call to governments, rich and poor, about the conclusions of the Doha climate talks.


In what they dubbed, an emergency call to ministers and negotiators, Action Aid, Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Oxfam and WWF said civil society will not be complicit in an outcome in Doha that will risk the lives of millions. “The world is facing a serious planetary emergency due to the destabilisation of the Earth’s climate caused by the accumulation of greenhouse gasses emitted over the last century-and-a-half.


“Already climate impacts are affecting millions of people across the world in the form of higher temperatures, more erratic severe and extreme weather, rising sea levels and melting glaciers. And many millions more will be affected in the next decade as we hurtle towards irreversible climate change if world leaders do not take ambitious action here in Doha,” the groups said.


Despite the urgency of the crisis facing people and the planet, the statement said rich industrialised countries have spent the past two weeks in Doha removing even the bare minimum of what would be required to have an agreement that meets the acid test of climate action on emissions cuts, public climate financing and action on loss and damage.


The groups asked whether there is any hope of increasing developed country ambition to deliver at least 40 per cent emissions reductions below 1990 levels by 2020, will Doha deliver the public climate finance needed for those affected by climate change and to help the transformation required in developing countries and whether Doha will ensure that the future 2015 global climate agreement is ambitious and equitable.


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