AT THE UN's climate
summit in Qatar, on Saturday, negotiators kept hopes alive for a
global climate treaty in 2015, but made little progress in tackling
carbon pollution, or in helping those who suffer from the effects
of climate change.
Exactly a day and one
hour after the nominal deadline of 6 p.m. last Friday, the
president of the talks, Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, brought the
gavel down on a deal that secured a second commitment period of the
Kyoto Protocol (KP), but delivered hardly anything concrete needed
by developing countries, or demanded by climate scientists, to
prevent further global warming.
At the same time as the
"super typhoon" Bopha killed hundreds of people in the Philippines,
policy-makers from some developed countries at the 18th "conference
of the parties" (COP 18) blocked attempts to produce an ambitious
Negotiators from Russia,
the United States, and Poland, among others, refused to make any
significant emissions cuts, or pledge vital funding to help the
world's poor to adapt to the effect of climate change.
The "Kyoto countries" -
the European Union, and others such as Australia - signed up to a
second period until 2020, which ensures the survival of the only
international, legally binding, rules-based climate treaty.
Emission targets, however, remain woefully short - both by KP
countries, and those outside the treaty such as the United States,
Canada, and Japan - of what is needed to avoid runaway climate
Some NGOs have dubbed it
the "Qatar-strophe". Campaigners had called on nations to respond
to warnings from scientists that the world is on track for global
warming on an unprecedented scale.
The senior climate-change
adviser for Christian Aid, Mohamed Adow, said the world's poor had
been left with very little from the summit. "The world's most
vulnerable people, rather than being given an early Christmas
present, were left with just a lump of coal in the bottom of their
stocking," he said.
"The world's most
vulnerable countries were desperate for a deal, but delegations
from rich countries constantly undermined those efforts. The
climate will not wait for governments to wake up and take action.
People in the Philippines, continue to suffer while politicians
drag their feet."
The head of the
Philippines' delegation, Yeb Sano, had moved many at the conference
to tears when he made an emotional appeal for global action to help
avoid further unseasonal storms in his country. Mr Sano said: "If
not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then
Lidy Nacpil, the
International Co-ordinator of the Christian Aid partner Jubilee
South, and a member of the Philippines' delegation, said: "This
week in the Philippines we again felt the terrible reality of
climate change with Typhoon Bopha.
"The frequency of 'super
typhoons' has been unprecedented. . . We need climate finance to
help us survive, and cuts in emissions from big polluters to
prevent the storms from getting worse."
Despite creating the
Green Climate Fund in Durban last year, to distribute $100 billion
by 2020, developed countries left Doha with the fund still largely
One of the few green
shoots to come from the talks was the commitment by the UK to
pledge £1.8 billion towards helping developing nations adapt to the
impacts of climate change, and help them develop along a low-carbon
pathway. The announcement by the Secretary of State for Energy and
Climate Change, Edward Davey, provided some momentum, leading the
way for other countries to make their own commitments at the
Overall, however, the
willingness shown by the UK and some other EU countries was
undermined by developed countries who refused to do their fair
Because the effects of
climate change in many poor countries can no longer be averted,
some developing countries and small island states pushed for
compensation from developed nations for "loss and damage". This was
blocked by the US, supported by Canada, Australia, and Japan, and
almost led to the collapse of the talks.
In the end, the parties
agreed to establish at COP 19 next year "institutional
arrangements, such as an international mechanism", which presents
an opportunity to address the issue of loss and damage.