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Developed countries sit on their hands at climate talks

10 December 2012

by Joe Ware in Doha


Protest: activists outside the UN climate talks in Doha

Protest: activists outside the UN climate talks in Doha

ON Saturday evening, the UN's climate summit in Qatar closed with an agreement to extend the Kyoto Protocol climate treaty a further eight years until 2020. But it left many vulnerable countries disappointed with the outcome.

Hardly any new commitments to reduce carbon emissions were made by policy makers in Doha, and there was a distinct lack of funding from developed countries to help those suffering from the worst effects of climate change.

Such was the unwillingness by some developed country delegations to take any significant action, either on emissions or climate finance, the Association Of Small Island States (AOSIS) almost walked out on the final morning. In the end a weak deal was agreed, albeit under protest from Russia, which was trying to weaken it further.

Negotiations to create a single global treaty covering carbon pollution, to come into force by 2020, will continue, but many developing countries and NGOs were left angry that so little action has been agreed for the short term.

Christian Aid's senior climate-change adviser, Mohamed Adow, said: "This agreement did nothing to shift the world away from its trajectory towards environmental chaos.

"We need countries to resolve the huge stumbling block in the talks which is how to share the required effort to ensure a safe future. We live on a constrained planet, and the developed countries who are most to blame need to take responsibility and act."

One bright spot during the second week of negotiations was the UK's pledge of £1.8 billion to help poor countries adapt to the impact of climate change and provide renewable energy technology to help them develop without carbon-intensive industries.

The announcement made by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey, prompted other countries to come forward with their own funding commitments.

However the Green Climate Fund, which was established in Durban last year to provide $100 billion a year to vulnerable countries by 2020, remains empty.

After the summit, Mr Adow said governments still had work to do. "We now need countries to work on how they can make more ambitious progress in the short term as we head towards the global climate treaty in 2015."

Joe Ware works in the Christian Aid communications team.

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