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COP18 daily: Pomp and ceremony as the hard work continues

05 December 2012
COP18 daily: Pomp and ceremony as the hard work continues

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 second day of week two of COP18 and will be followed by daily reports for the rest of the week.

DOHA: Today saw the opening of the High Level Segment of COP18 by the Emir of Qatar and UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon. In theory this marked the official highlight of the day, but in reality the real action lay elsewhere as negotiators continued their efforts to bridge differences behind (mainly) closed doors.

Progress appears to be mixed on the range of issues still under discussion, although not for a lack of trying. Officials engaged in talks on adaptation, for example, reportedly endured a 16 hour session, with little new text to show as a result.

Negotiators working on proposals for a new international ‘Loss and Damage’ Mechanism (essentially a UN run insurance system to cover climate impacts in developing countries) were more successful and have agreed a set of options for ministers to consider.

The price, however, was 25 hours of exhausting negotiation. Such feats of endurance are not uncommon in this process, and for some almost a badge of honor.

But as a method for solving humanities greatest long-term challenge, it leaves much to be desired. More tales of stamina and survival can be expected in the coming days as ministers begin to fully engage in the process.

Elsewhere, in the spectacular vastness that is the Qatari National Convention Centre (QNCC), observers continued to enjoy a plethora of side events and other distractions.

Two prominent events of note were the Ministerial Dialogue on Market Mechanisms and the UNFCCC’s award ceremony for its ‘Momentum for Change’ Lighthouse program.

The Dialogue focused primarily on the future of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

The chair of the High Level Panel, which was set up last year to review and make recommendations on the CDM, reminded ministers and the audience just how successful this carbon offset mechanism has been.

Created almost as an afterthought under the Kyoto Protocol, the CDM has in fact resulted in $215 billion of low carbon investment in developing countries, saved developed countries $3.6 billion in mitigation costs, and reduced global emissions by 1 gigaton.

Ministers from Australia, Germany, China, South Africa, Japan and elsewhere all noted their countries strong support for the mechanism and the importance of its continued existence.

Unfortunately, such enthusiasm seems absent from the negotiations. Here, the lack of mitigation ambition by richer countries, combined with developing country objections to the idea of universal access, even for non Protocol parties (a recommendation of the High Level Panel), could well kill demand for CDM credits entirely, and with it the mechanism.

Sorting out this unnecessary spat is expected to be a priority for ministers in the coming days.

The Momentum for Change event, by contrast, delivered a welcomed sense of entrepreneurial optimism to the QNCC. Now in its second year, the 2012 ‘Lighthouse’ awards recognised nine organizations that had created transformational, replicable and scalable low-carbon initiatives, which delivered environmental and social benefits to the urban poor.

Winners included a solar lighting initiative in Uganda aimed at providing women with ‘a business in a bag’ start-up kit; an affordable, climate friendly Bus Mass Transport System in India; and a program in Latin America to train artisan brickmakers in more energy efficient production methods.

The Climate Group was also busy today, hosting an informal meeting for those members of the States and Regions Alliance in Doha. This provided the opportunity for updates on the low carbon activities taking place within the group.

The impressive list of actions, such as Wallonia’s recent legislation setting a 30% emission reduction target for 2020, or KwaZulu Natal’s milestone in planting 500,000 trees, underlines that ambitious climate efforts at the sub-national level continue to set the benchmark for low carbon leadership.

This can only be a good thing, not least if it provides inspiration for national governments and their negotiators in the final days here in Doha.

Photo by UNFCCC.


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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