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November 29, 2012
Implementation the theme at COP18

COP18, a 2-week international climate conference that began in Doha, Qatar, on November 26, 2012, seeks to work out the implementation details of what some regard as a major deal that was negotiated in Durban, South Africa, at the end of 2011.  But the technical aspects of the meeting are not allaying fears that nations are losing precious time in taking action that will meaningfully stall climate change and avert its disastrous effects. 

Durban platform

The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) held in Durban spelled out a path to negotiate a new legal and universal emissions reduction agreement by 2015; the agreement is to come into effect by 2020.  The outcome of COP17–called the Durban Platform–included the launch of a protocol or legal instrument that would apply to all parties, a second commitment period for the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and the launch of the Green Climate Fund, which was created to help developing nations protect themselves from climate impacts and build their own sustainable futures. 

According to Christiana Figueres, the United Nation’s top climate official, the objectives at COP18 in Doha include:

  • Ensuring a seamless continuation in January 2013 of the Kyoto Protocol, which expires at the end of 2012.  Key issues include the length of the second commitment period and how to convert targets into quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives (QELRO), the unit of binding reduction commitments; and the legal formulation of the amendment to the Protocol, including how to carry over unused emissions credits of economies in transition into the second phase of the Protocol.
  • Developing a work plan to implement the Durban Platform.   The objective is to find concrete ways before 2020 to increase efforts beyond existing pledges.  The challenge is to address different national circumstances in an effective, fair, and ambitious agreement.

Completing the 2007 Bali Action Plan.  This plan covered such issues as adaptation to climate change and the finance, technology, and capacity-building that developing countries need to build low-emission, climate-resilient futures.

2 degrees C ceiling

The 195 nations represented at COP18 generally agree that the rise in global average temperature must not exceed 2◦ Celsius (3.6◦ Fahrenheit). However, the week before the conference began the World Bank said the world remains at risk of seeing a 4◦ Celsius rise by the end of the century.  Also, the UN World Meteorological Organization recently reported that atmospheric GHG concentrations reached a record high in 2011.  In addition, the UN Environment Program has warned that the gap between emissions reductions that are needed to stay below a 2o C rise and the emissions reductions countries have promised to achieve is widening, not decreasing.

While some observers do not expect a great deal to occur at COP18, others insist that the conference presents a critical opportunity for parties to improve on their short-term (pre-2020) emissions reduction commitments. 

Other matters to be addressed at COP18 include deforestation, agriculture, and development and transfer of technology.

Click here for more information about COP18.

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