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Reactions to COP18’s Doha Gateway: “Open to irreversible climate change, shut to equity”

Reactions to COP18's Doha Gateway

After a predictable delay at the UN climate talks in Doha, Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and President of COP18, took a little over two minutes to hammer through a series of “decisions”. He then declared the creation of the “Doha Gateway”.

After the Berlin Mandate, the Marrakesh Accords, the Bali Road Map, the Copenhagen Accord, the Cancun Agreements, the Durban Platform, we now have the Doha Gateway. A gateway is both a point of entry or a point of exit. It’s a good metaphor for 20 years of failed UN climate negotiations. The UNFCCC still can’t decide whether it is coming or going.

Here are some of the reactions so far to the “Doha Gateway”:

“We came to Doha with low expectations, but those low expectations got even lower. Any government walking out of these negotiations saying that this was a success is suffering from a terrible case of cognitive dissonance. The reality is telling us we are running out of time, science is telling us we need much greater ambition, and we have to call this as a substantial failure…. Our governments have to now recognise the science is non-negotiable.”

Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International

“It’s not just about paving the way for post-2020. It’s about increasing ambitions now in the run-up to 2020. And I think there’s been some—some steps in that direction. So, you know, I think that that is positive. And I know some people have been disappointed and would want more. The U.K. and the EU has always been on the ambitious side of things, but we’re moving as a world, and it’s important that the world moves in the right direction. And it did here in Doha.”

Ed Davey, UK Energy/Climate Secretary

“Doha has opened up a new gateway to bigger ambition and to greater action – the Doha Climate Gateway. Qatar is proud to have been able to bring governments here to achieve this historic task. I thank all governments and ministers for their work to achieve this success. Now governments must move quickly through the Doha Climate Gateway to push forward with the solutions to climate change.”

Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, COP18 President

“Some developed countries have made a mockery of the negotiations by backing away from their past commitments and refusing to take on new ones. And to make matters worse, it was only a handful of countries – such as Poland, Russia, Canada, the US and Japan – who held the negotiations to ransom…. The acid test for these negotiations was real emissions cuts; real and concrete financial commitments for climate change; and the basis for a new global deal by 2015 that is both ambitious and equitable. But instead we got a shamefully weak deal, one that is so far away from the science that it should raise ethical issues for those responsible.”

Samantha Smith, WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative

“The current pledges, be they under the Kyoto Protocol, or be they under the convention in a voluntary form, are clearly not enough to actually guarantee that the temperature will stay below 2°C. There is an ever increasing gap between the action of countries and what the science tells us. That is why it was so important for the Kyoto Protocol to go into its second commitment period, because what it has done is ensured that it is going to be environmental integrity and very robust accounting systems that will be able to be used by all countries in the new agreement that they are moving toward.”

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

“The Doha deal is as empty as a desert mirage. Despite the official spin, these talks delivered nothing: no real progress on cutting greenhouse gases and only an insulting gesture at climate finance. The blame lies squarely with the rich industrialised world, most notably the US. The Obama administration is succeeding in its efforts to dismantle the UN global climate regime and other wealthy nations have joined in, paralyzing the climate talks and forcing the world’s poor to pay the price. We demand justice for the people of developing nations who suffer the most from the crisis, a crisis caused mainly by the rich industrialised world.”

Asad Rehman, Friends of the Earth International

“In Durban we said if we are going to do CBDR, we say that that should include evolving circumstances and represent wherever you are , 2012, 2020, rather than CBDR 1992. We said fine, include CBDR but put a reference to evolving circumstances. This was supposed to be a transitional year and that is what it was. No one expected big deliverables on the Durban platform, that was the nature of this COP. I’m not shocked that the COP turned out to be contentious. They always are. There should be time and space to have serious discussions this year about how to understand equity and CBDR in the new world that we are trying to negotiate for. In the first instance that should happen in the ADP. The reason I welcome this conversation is because it is clearly going to be at the heart of the Durban Platform.”

Todd Stern, Chief U.S. negotiator

“What you saw on display here was, there were some winners. The coal industry won here, the oil industry won here, the fossil fuel industry won here. You saw on display the power of these industries and their short term profit motivation to dominate the governments of the world. This wasn’t an environmental or a science discussion, this was a trade fair. This was a who’s going to share the spoils of the world as we drill in the Arctic, and produce tar sands in Canada and mine coal in Asia for China. This is not the future we need to leave to our children. We know that we need to leave 4/5ths of the oil, gas and coal on the planet where it is, underground. It’s the only safe carbon reserve there is. And yet we are scrambling to develop all these new reserves.”

Alden Meyer, Union of Concerned Scientists

“The bones were there, but they’ll need to put meat on the bones over the course of the year. Market participants now know what they’re dealing with in terms of international policy. We didn’t solve problems on the demand side – the ambition levels – but not many of us expected that would happen at Doha given the state of the economy. But it’s clear parties are interested in engaging with business and are interested in market mechanisms being at the centre of climate action.”

Dirk Forrister, International Emissions Trading Association

“The decisions in Doha will not lead to higher prices in the global carbon markets. The low price we currently see in the offset market is caused by the lack of demand for reductions through crediting mechanisms. Without deeper reduction targets, investment in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is likely to dry up and it will be very difficult to get any of the new market mechanisms discussed at UN level off the drawing board.”

Stig Schjølset, Thomson Reuters Point Carbon

“This deal is an insult to the world, the most vulnerable and to the future generations. The Doha Gateway leaves the door wide open to irreversable climate change and the door shut to equity. The most vulnerable and least responsible will suffer greatly from this unjust, unambitious and inequitable deal that completely undermines the objective of the convention and the possibility for achieving for equal access to sustainable development. What have you done? You have failed to deliver in providing adequate financing, ambitious mitigation targets, and international mechanisms to address the compensation for loss and damage. Instead we are leaving with a text that is as empty as the Green Climate Fund. Your decision here will affect the lives of millions. This is tyranny on a global scale. Developed world, how many people are going to have to die before you take this seriously? How dare you self-congratulate for all the great work while committing to offensively low mitigation targets? How dare you talk about trust when you have shattered so many agreements? It is clear from today’s events that this process is broken. Business as usual is no longer an option when it comes to both the climate and this decision making process. No justice! No deal!”

Merna Ghaly, Arab Youth Climate Movement

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  1. Seems to me the choice is rather simple: we either force governments to get off their a*ses and do something about climate change NOW, or expect that, in not too many years to come, when it is already way too late, THEY will be forcing US to make the changes.

    It’s not going to be pretty. The first things that will go, of course, will be our basic civil and democratic rights, as governments struggle to deal with repeated ‘natural’ disasters, along with the collapse of agriculture and mass starvation, and attempt to maintain public order and enforce things such as fossil fuel rationing and massively higher energy prices. (If you think I am sensationalising, reflect that in the UK, it only takes the threat of an insignificant few pence increase in fuel taxes to bring the strikers out, oil refineries to be blockaded, and the army called onto the streets to keep fuel supply-lines open).

    I suppose that if there is any minimal consolation, it will be eventually to see the cause of most of all this – the Republican Right in the USA – grovelling for stronger state intervention to save their miserable lives and businesses and to prevent complete economic and societal collapse. I don’t think these so-called Libertarians, ignorant as most of them are, have yet realised that their opposition to climate change mitigation measures is leading us directly and inexorably towards a situation in which governments can only become increasingly totalitarian.

  2. @TreeFellas (#1) – I agree, none of this is likely to be pretty.

    While you’re right that the Republicans are worse than the Democrats on climate change (more Republicans believe in possession by demons than in climate change), I think it goes deeper than a Republicans vs. Democrats issue.

    After all, it was the Clinton Democrats who undermined the EU stance (against carbon trading and for deeper emission cuts) in Kyoto and it was Obama who went to Copenhagen.

    A large part of the problem (and this is not confined to the USA) is that the energy and transport sectors finance political campaigns. (Both sectors finance Republicans more than Democrats.) The details are on Open Secrets: energy and transport.

    Todd Stern is a Democrat. His first COP was Kyoto. Here’s an extract from a very favourable profile of him in Mother Jones, from before the Copenhagen failure:

    Stern insists the US targets are “robust,” and he notes that the administration has agreed to deeper long-term reductions—80 percent by 2050. He says he’s not worried about the difference in short-term schedules: “I don’t think this will be the place where negotiations will hang up.” He’s also pursuing other avenues for international cooperation—talks with China and negotiations among the world’s biggest emitters.

  3. @Chris

    Yep, hands-up on this, you are right. I guess the thing I missed is that if the US is now exporting its coal to Europe rather than burning it itself (and thus keeping Democrat-voting miners, unions and mid-west Senators in gainful employ), then the present status quo suits *both* political cults.

  4. before the Doha meeting we here in Indonesia have guessed that wealthy nations like the U.S., UK and Japan will resist reductions, so we were not surprised by the failure of the meeting in Doha