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COP18 daily: Midpoint Monday in Doha

04 December 2012
COP18 daily: Midpoint Monday in Doha

COP18 takes place in Doha, Qatar, from November 26 to December 7, 2012. As part of our involvement in COP18, Damian Ryan our Senior Policy Manager, is providing daily news and analysis, as well as live tweeting from Doha.

This is Damian's report from the first day of week two of COP18 and will be followed by daily reports for the rest of the week.

Week two of COP18 in Doha started with predictable familiarity today. With just five days left to run, the traditional midpoint uncertainty about the shape and ambition of the final outcome was evident, as stocktake meetings of the main negotiating processes took place.

Chairs of both the Kyoto and Convention track negotiations presented summary slides indicating the status of key issues in their respective processes. The Kyoto slide highlighted good progress on issues relating to the legal and operational continuity of the Protocol from January 1, 2013.

Half way to agreement

Discussions on ambition, including quantified targets, as well as talks on the carryover of surplus units also seemed to in relatively good shape, with Parties apparently ‘half way’ to agreement.

In contrast, the debate about whether those countries not taking new commitments could still access the Protocol’s flexibility mechanisms appeared effectively stalled, with the chair noting that political input from ministers was now required.

The chair of the Convention track probably envied his Kyoto colleague’s progress. The summary slide for this track suggested deadlock on a long list of key substantive issues including adaption, finance, technology and capacity building.


Interventions from Parties on the status of both tracks were largely predictable with calls for greater ambition (with respect to developed countries), flexibility and understanding.

While on the face of it negotiators have a large hill to climb over the coming days, one former senior negotiator suggested a deal was there to be had if Parties wanted it.

Whether such an outcome measures up to the expectations of observers and the climate science is another matter entirely.

Beyond the stocktake meetings, most of the substantive exchanges continued behind closed doors. One notable exception was a roundtable on countries’ expectations for the negotiation process on a new global climate treaty (aka the Durban Platform).

Parties discussed four questions including how national circumstances should be taken into account and how to make the new agreement applicable to all. Although many of the statements were along predictable lines, the intervention from Costa Rica on behalf of a number of Latin American countries was notable for its pragmatism.

These countries are seeking to find a middle ground between traditional developing and developed country camps. In particular the group argued for a more nuance expression of the ‘Common but Differentiated Responsibility’ principle, which has defined countries (unhelpfully) on a simple binary basis since 1992.

Unfortunately, such voices of reason continue to be a minority in a negotiation which remains focused on avoiding the perceived costs rather than the seizing the actual opportunities from ambitious climate action.

Finding solutions

Despite the lack of ambition and finger pointing that seems to dominate negotiations, interest in finding and implementing solutions remains very real if two of the day’s side events are anything to go by.

The first, on new market mechanisms, was packed to overflowing as policy experts from Harvard and Zurich Universities as well as the International Emissions Trading Association, outlined how a combination of both bottom-up and top-down approaches could build and link various national and international market based measures.

The irony of the obvious enthusiasm surrounding the event was that elsewhere in the convention centre, negotiators continued to struggle to reach agreement on the very same issues.

A similar (dis)connection could be said of the second side event, this time on climate finance. While Parties clash over how to raise $100 billion per annum in finance by 2020, experts from commercial and development banks, pension funds and thinktanks laid out the financial instruments necessary for leveraging not billions but trillions of dollars in private sector capital.

An excellent flow chart of global climate finance (see page 9) was also presented by the Climate Policy Initiative, which highlighted that total flows in 2012 averaged US$364 billion – the majority from private sector sources.

With luck the kind of pragmatic positioning of countries like Costa Rica and the efficient market mechanisms and financial instruments promoted by the policy and business communities will quickly reach the mainstream of UNFCCC talks.

On Monday morning of week two at COP 18, however, the tradition of negotiation uncertainty prevails.


Damian Ryan is writing news and analysis and live-tweeting throughout COP18, and providing a more in-depth post-COP Briefing after the events. Keep up to date on our website and by following him on Twitter during COP18. 

In the run up to and during Doha we are also posting a series of articles featuring analysis from our teams in the USEurope, India and Australia on their nations' COP negotiating positions.

Follow a live feed from COP18 below.

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