Doha climate talks end first half with no consensus

2012-12-01 21:38:18 GMT2012-12-02 05:38:18(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

The first half of the Doha climate talks ended Saturday without achieving any major progress on the future of the Kyoto Protocol, which is the world's only legally binding climate treaty.

No breakthrough has been made during the first week on the extension of the Kyoto Protocol, a meaningful completion of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Long-term Cooperative Action (LCA), or the funding issue, said Su Wei, China's chief climate negotiator and director-general of the Department of Climate Change of the National Development and Reform Commission.

"Parties' stands are not very clear at the initial stage of the negotiations," he said, adding that "We hope the ministerial meetings next week can lead to some consensus and solutions that can be accepted by all."

Up to now, developed countries are still reluctant to make further emission cuts pledge as urged by developing countries. The European Union (EU) has pledged to reduce its emissions by at least 20 percent by 2020, but set conditions for a further 30 percent cut.

The United States, despite President Barack Obama's pledge to lead in climate in his second term, is blocking progress towards a longer-term global deal; while Canada, Japan, New Zealand, among others, are still keeping away from the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

Parties also divide on the length of the second period. The EU and the BASIC countries, including China, India, Brazil and South Africa, propose it should be eight years as it could then be linked with the existing 2020 targets; while some small, developing island states prefer a five-year period so as to push developed countries to take faster actions.

"As the second period is to launch on Jan. 1, 2013, we must reach some consensus on the issue as soon as possible," Su said.

It took eight years for some countries to ratify the first commitment period and it is not clear how long it needs to get the green light for the second period.

Whether the surplus emissions allowances, or "hot air," from the first commitment period should be retired is also a controversy at Doha talks.

The G77 and China opposed trading carried-over hot air in the second commitment period. Europe is deeply split on the issue, while some other countries, including Russia, propose to profit from their surplus carbon dioxide allowances.

At the same time, the financial aid promised by developed countries to help the world's most vulnerable countries cope with climate change has not been fully delivered.

"Developing countries need sustained investment to help them make the transition to a low carbon economy and adapt to the impacts of climate change: and the cost will rise, the more we delay action to cut emissions. Countries must agree a specific commitment now to provide 60 billion U.S. dollars over the next three years," said Ruth Davis, Greenpeace Chief Policy Advisor.

Measuring, reporting and verifying (MRV) both emissions and funding contributions for developed and developing countries remains a contentious issue as well, with technical negotiations ongoing.

"The negotiations next week are under heavy pressure and overnight meetings are expected, but it is not clear whether any breakthrough will be achieved," said China's Su.

"The significance of the Doha talks is in making appropriate arrangements on remaining issues before starting a new round of talks. China will continue to play a constructive role in this process," Su added.

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