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Doha Wins "Damage Aid" for Poor Countries

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Writer for Energy Post, The Fifth Estate, author of Earthscan Expert Guides to Solar Technology, Sustainable Home Refurbishment, Energy Management for Buildings and Industry, The One Planet...

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  • Dec 10, 2012 7:36 pm GMT

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For the first time, developing countries have won recognition of the danger they face from climate change, securing a promise from developing countries that they will receive funding to repair the “loss and damage” incurred.

US negotiators fought hard against this proposal and made sure no term implying legal liability was used, to avoid the possibility of litigation; the money will instead be described as aid. It is already being called ‘damage aid’.

But “climate finance is not charity or foreign aid,” said Brandon Wu, Senior Policy Advisor, ActionAid. “The Doha outcome completely fails to provide clarity. Lacking concrete numbers and dates, it lets rich countries off the hook. Developing countries have no idea whether climate finance will go up or down, or even whether it will reliably flow.”

Ronald Jumeau, the Seychelles negotiator, told his American counterpart: “If we had had more ambition [on emissions cuts from rich countries], we would not have to ask for so much [money] for adaptation. If there had been more money for adaptation [to climate change], we would not be looking for money for loss and damage. What’s next? Loss of our islands?”

Observers now expect armies of consultancies to spring up, which will debate from both sides the scientific basis of attributing specific extreme events and weather effects to climate change

The Doha Gateway Package

“What we have on the table is extremely weak. I think it worse than people expected,” concluded Hoda Baraka, Arab World Project, Greenpeace at the end of the final 36-hour session of the fortnight-long UN climate change talks among 195 nations in Qatar.

The other headline results from what is called the Doha Gateway Package, are:

negotiators resolved the Second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol by adopting amendments;

concluded the long-term cooperative action (LCA) track, including rules around finance, accounting and review;

and agreed to move forward with the Durban Agreement, with a workplan for 2013. This will begin negotiating the global legally binding agreement, which is scheduled to be signed in 2015 and will come into force five years later.

The final Doha Gateway text was rushed through the last plenary by the Qatari host over objections. “Saving the process; killing the planet”, as the Sierra Student Coalition’s International Committee put it.

Two activists, Libyan Raied Gheblawi, 22, and Algerian Mohamed Anis Amirouche, 19, were deported from Qatar on Thursday after holding up a banner in the central meeting point reading “Qatar, why host not lead?”

Kyoto Protocol

The Doha outcome confirmed the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol starting on 1 January 2013. Its participants, however, account only for around 14% of world emissions.

It will run for eight years, up to the entry into force of a promised new global legal agreement in 2020.

The adopted target by the EU and Croatia and Iceland, of cutting emissions by 20% of 1990 levels by 2020, is open to being increased to 30%. The targets of all participating countries will be revisited by 2014 with a view to considering raising ambitions.

The EU and other countries taking on targets will have a limit on the number of purchases they can make of surplus emission allowances (‘AAUs’) left over from the first commitment period.

The EU Member States, and all other potential buyers (Australia, Japan, Liechtenstein, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland) have declared anyway that they will not purchase AAUs carried over from the first period.

EU finance

The agreement leaves the EU as the world’s leading provider of official development assistance and climate finance to developing countries.

The bloc had pledged €7.2 billion in ‘fast start’ finance for the period 2010-12 and has assured its developing country partners that climate finance will continue after this year.

Several EU Member States and other developed countries such as the UK announced specific finance pledges for 2013, and in some cases up to 2015.

The decisions also extend a work programme on long-term finance for a year, with the aim of helping developed countries identify pathways for scaling up climate finance to $100 billion per year by 2020 from public, private and alternative sources.

Greg Barker, UK Energy and Climate Change Minister, and Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of UAE’s renewable energy company Masdar, announced they will launch a new roundtable for the world’s largest public and private sector investors in low carbon industries during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, in January. This aims to scale up investment to combat climate change in developing economies.

Barker said: “Alongside the formal negotiations taking place here in Doha, there’s a formidable amount of informal discussion around how to mobilise at scale the private finance needed to tackle climate change”.

The winners at Doha

“Any government walking out here saying it is a success is suffering from a terrible case of cognitive dissonance,” said Kumi Naidoo, executive director, Greenpeace, articulating the feelings of most leaving the conference.

“They have to align the political reality of these conversations with what the science says. This failure is a betrayal of the people in the Philippines and all the other people who face climate impacts now.”

Who was to blame for this failure? “It was only a handful of countries, such as Poland, Russia, Canada, the US and Japan, who held the negotiations to ransom,” thought Samantha Smith, leader of WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative.

Asad Rehman, Friends of the Earth International spokesperson in Qatar, added: “most notably the US”. Sophia McNab, UK Youth Climate Coalition delegate, went even further: “This text is a win for the USA, developed countries and fossil fuel interests. It’s a betrayal of all vulnerable nations, and our future.”

“The coal industry won here, the oil industry won here,” agreed Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy, Union of Concerned Scientists. “You saw on display the power of these industries and their short term profit to influence the governments of the world.”

Wael Hmaidan, director of Climate Action Network International, said: “The path forward is actually quite clear: we have the technology and know-how. But we also need people in all regions of the world to demand leadership from their governments”.

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