Climate Change
Thursday, 22 November 2012 12:30

Through the looking glass: COP18/CMP8 Qatar 2012

With COP18/CMP8 on the horison, Qatar is on a mission to keep this year’s conference as environmentally-friendly and technologically advanced as possible after signing the Agreement on the Establishment of the Global Green Growth Institute.

On 26 November 2012 the world will gather for COP18/CMP8 in Doha, Qatar. The State of Qatar and the Republic of Korea have joined forces in an effort to globally promote the Green Growth Agenda (GGA), which has been one of the main focus points in the run-up to this year’s conference.

According to Christiana Figueres, executive director of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), concrete progress has been made in key discussion areas, such as the future of the Kyoto Protocol.

Carbon market developments since COP17

Reflecting on COP17, which was held in Durban in 2011, Robbie Louw, director of Promethium Carbon, says: “The big surprise was the agreement by the Kyoto countries to extend the Kyoto Protocol with a second commitment period.” The protocol is a treaty established in 1997, which legally required developed countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

During the conference, the European Union (EU) committed to a conditional emission reduction target of 20% below the 1990 levels by 2020 in the event that the other countries do not submit acceptable levels of commitment. They further committed to increase the 20% reduction to 30% if other countries submit acceptable levels of commitment.

Another development on the international carbon markets during the first half of 2012 was the emergence of a carbon trade war between the EU and a number of other countries about imposing a unilateral carbon tax on flights into Europe by international air carriers.

France’s newly elected president, Francois Hollande’s, introduction of border tax adjustments is another point of discussion. These adjustments impose an import tariff on goods that enter the EU from regions with lower-level carbon markets based on the emissions associated with the production of the goods. This would serve as a significant trade incentive for all regions exporting to Europe to implement carbon-pricing and trading regimes in order to avoid trade impacts.

The third development in the carbon market is the rapid development of non-European markets, as well as increased efforts to link these markets.

With the Bangkok round of climate negotiations concluded, the BASIC quartet – Brazil, South Africa, India and China – came together to discuss their common negotiating position for the year-end talks in Qatar. While there are disagreements, one issue the quartet settled on was the extension of the Kyoto Protocol.



Current state of global markets

Much like this year’s conference, the Durban platform envisioned an international greenhouse gas emission (GHG) agreement to be implemented by 2020. In practice, however, a global agreement can only be reached if large players such as the United States of America (USA), Russia and Canada, who declined to participate in the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, are willing to take action. 

As it is highly unlikely that these players will take domestic action on a federal level by 2015, it has now become COP18 delegates’ responsibility to adjust the goals and suggest more realistic solutions towards a unified global carbon market.

A greener outlook

On 21 June 2012 Qatar joined 16 other developing countries at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference for Sustainable Development. During the conference, the agreement on the establishment of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) was signed. Its primary goal is to transform the GGGI into an international organisation.

This paradigm shift is expected to facilitate the GGGI’s mission to develop and spread green growth as an economic model around the world. The initiative reflects much of the same vision that the State of Qatar has for its own growth and development.

Among the schemes that are being put in place is the Paper-Smart Initiative, which provides delegates with digital copies of UN documents to reduce the amount of paper produced during the negotiations, and using memory sticks loaded with key information for delegates and members of the press. The COP18/CMP8 in Doha is currently developing an action plan to target and reduce paper waste.

Speaking in Tokyo at a meeting on sustainable development, Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, the Prime Minister of Doha, said the COP18/CMP8 conference would be a critical opportunity to make progress. He also raised a second vital issue at the Doha Conference, which is funding. Developed countries have pledged to disburse about $100-billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries to take action and adapt through the Green Climate Fund. “This leaves us with an eight-year financing gap – without any collective commitment by developed countries to support climate action in developing countries,” said Al-Attiyah.

Al-Attiyah said: “The COP18/CMP8 Conference is a planned act to demonstrate commitment and will to preserve the planet that we share. We want Doha to launch a roadmap to 2015 where all countries agree on a shared responsibility in protecting and mitigating the effects of climate change, and it will be an opportunity for everyone to participate and show their commitment to protecting the environment.”

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change, COP18/CMP8 (http://www.cop18.qu/) and Promethium (www.promethium.co.za) for the information given to write this article.

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