Column : Doha reflects weakening ambition

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SummaryThe 18th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change took place in Doha during the period November 26 to December 7.

Key nations like Canada, Japan & Russia will have no emission reduction targets. Others have diluted commitments

The 18th Conference of the Parties (CoP 18) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) took place in Doha (Qatar) during the period November 26 to December 7. It is relevant to note that the UNFCCC came into existence in 1992, and 20 years have elapsed since the global community articulated its desire and commitment to deal with the challenge of climate change on a global basis. In an effort to provide meaning to the intent of the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted at the 3rd Conference of the Parties in 1997, but in keeping with its provisions, it was ratified by the requisite number of Parties in 2004 and came into existence in 2005. In the Protocol, actions were required by specified Parties to be completed in the first commitment period which is to end this year. Hence, a great deal of discussion and debate has taken place leading up to the Doha CoP on extending the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012 into the next commitment period.

This, indeed, was agreed on and the Parties decided on a set of amendments to the Protocol, which would apply from January 1, 2013. However, several key countries that are parties to the UNFCCC will have no targets for reducing their emissions in the second commitment period of the Protocol. These include Canada (which has withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol), Japan, New Zealand and the Russian Federation. Other developed countries have quantified emission limitation or reduction commitments for the period 2013-2020 as agreed on at the Doha meeting. Several observers have commented that the current set of commitments cover only countries that account for 15% of the total global emissions of greenhouse gases. This, they have highlighted, indicates very weak resolve and ambition among the global community a full 20 years after the UNFCCC came into existence.

Hence, an important thing would be whether negotiations under the UNFCCC are really coming to grips with the scientific realities of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which mobilises thousands of leading scientists from across the globe, has come up with a series of findings that should be the main driver of ambition in arriving at goals and targets. It would be useful to recall some of the major findings of the IPCC in the various

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