This update by David Waskow, climate change program director, comes from Doha the morning of December 7, 2012.
We’re heading into the final hours of what has been a paradoxical COP. On the one hand, it’s a transitional COP, a stepping stone for the process launched last year that’s supposed to lead to a comprehensive climate agreement in 2015. On the other hand, it’s a cliffhanger COP because the thee year Fast Start climate finance period that developed countries agreed to in Copenhagen in 2009 is coming to an end in several weeks and developing countries are uncertain about what happens next with finance to help them build climate resilience. As Oxfam has said, we’re facing a climate fiscal cliff.
The result has been a disappointing COP so far—with only limited progress on the new agreement, along with a serious stalemate on the finance issues. Developing countries are seeking a Doha decision that developed countries will maintain their fast start finance levels and begin to ramp up the funding levels. But despite some pledges of finance by several European counties, there has been very little progress on agreeing to finance commitments here.
As a result, the lack of finance assurances may stymie movement toward the 2015 deal because developing countries want more assurances on finance before they move fully forward. The final hours will be telling. Among other things, will the US agree to maintain the fast start levels of finance over the next three years (essentially $10 billion per year from all developed countries)?
The US did take one important step here in Doha—to recognize the importance of opening a dialogue on some key issues of equity in the negotiations, especially around the level of emissions reductions that different countries would undertake. There does have to be a serious conversation about this, and hopefully the US will engage.
Many negotiators from other countries came to Doha more optimistic about a US administration that had just won reelection. Many are again skeptical as the US continues to stick with positions from before. We’ve been stressing the opportunity the President has to act more assertiveness internationally after his reelection and significantly increased climate awareness after Sandy and this past summer’s drought. The final hours of the negotiations will provide telling answers as to how that will play out.