Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
from Kyoto to Doha, Qatar
May 3 2013: Alternative approach to Kyoto will probably fail. A U.S.-led plan to let all countries set their own goals for fighting climate change is gaining grudging support at U.N. talks, even though the current level of pledges is far too low to limit rising temperatures substantially. The approach, being discussed this week at 160-nation talks in Bonn, Germany, would mean abandoning the blueprint of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which set central goals for industrialized countries to cut emissions by 2012 and then let each work out national implementation. Attempts to agree a successor to Kyoto have foundered above all on a failure to agree on the contribution that developing countries should make to curbing the industrial emissions responsible for global warming - greenhouse gases. President Barack Obama's administration now says each nation should define its "contribution" to a new U.N. accord - a weaker word than past U.S. demands for national "commitments". The next ministerial conference to try to reach a deal is scheduled for Paris in 2015. However, all sides say the initial national promises will be insufficient to rein in greenhouse gases. link
What happens next?
The Doha conference reached an agreement to extend the life of the Kyoto Protocol until 2020, meaning that a successor to the Protocol is set to be developed by 2015 and implemented by 2020. UNFCCCC's 19th Conference of the Parties (COP-19) will take place in a country in Poland late 2013.
Background. The series of annual UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) talks can trace its roots to the 1992 Earth Summit in
Kyoto extended after 2012: A second commitment period will begin on January 1, 2013 and end December 31, 2020. This period will bridge the gap between the end of the first commitment period and the beginning of the next legally binding climate agreement, to be created in the Durban Platform track, which is set to be finished in 2015 and take effect in 2020.
What is the Kyoto Protocol?
With 191 member states, the U.N. accord is the only global treaty with binding limits on climate-altering greenhouse gases. The treaty commits nearly 40 developed "Annex 1" nations that emit around a quarter of the world's emissions to cut them domestically by an average 5% by 2012 from 1990 levels. The protocol's first leg runs out Dec. 31 2012, and the Doha talks must agree on the modalities of a second commitment period from 2013, a move agreed upon at the last round of U.N. climate talks in South Africa a year ago. The key issues in Doha are how long the second commitment period should last, who will back it and what targets to set.
What is the IPCC? The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme the (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts. It is endorsed by the UN General Assembly.
The IPCC is a scientific body. It reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change. It does not conduct any research nor does it monitor climate related data or parameters.
Thousands of scientists from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC on a voluntary basis. The IPCC is an intergovernmental body. It is open to all member countries of the United Nations (UN) and WMO. Currently 194 countries are members of the IPCC. Governments participate in the review process and the plenary Sessions, where main decisions about the IPCC work programme are taken and reports are accepted, adopted and approved. The IPCC Bureau Members, including the Chair, are also elected during the plenary Sessions. link to IPCC
November 2012: Next IPCC report will shock nations into action. The next United Nations IPCC climate report (due to be published in late 2013 and early 2014), will ''scare the wits out of everyone'' and should provide the impetus needed for the world to finally sign an agreement to tackle global warming according to the former IPCC head Yvo de Boer, saying "I'm confident those scientific findings will create new political momentum.'' link
2012 DOHA TALKS CONCLUDE:
December 2012. The controversial and ineffective Kyoto Protocol's first stage comes to an end today, leaving the world with 58% more greenhouse gases than in 1990, as opposed to the 5% reduction its signatories sought. The Kyoto protocol was adopted in 1997, but didn't to come into force until 2005. In the intervening eight years, countries set reduction targets for themselves and ratified the agreement. link
December 8: Few genuine cuts in greenhouse gases result from Doha talks. The
established for the first time that rich nations should move towards
compensating poor nations for losses due to climate change. Developing
hailed it as a breakthrough, but condemned the gulf between the science
climate change and political attempts to tackle it. The deal, agreed by
200 nations, extends to 2020 the Kyoto Protocol. It is the only
plan for combating global warming. The deal covers Europe and
share of world greenhouse gas emissions is less than 15%. But the
also cleared the way for the Kyoto protocol to be replaced by a new
binding all rich and poor nations together by 2015 to tackle climate
final text "encourages" rich nations to mobilise at least $10bn a year
up to 2020, when the new global climate agreement is due to kick
The Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - or its shorthand "COP17" - will be held in Durban, South Africa from November 28 to December 9 2011. No one expects that any significant new agreement will be signed, and there will be another, bigger conference at the end of 2012 in Rio de Janeiro. 20,000 delegates are expected from 194 countries. Explaining the significance of the COP17 conference, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (pictured above with Christiana Figueras at left)), South African International Relations Minister, said, "We all feel the impacts of climate change in the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, coastal erosion and flooding as a result of rising sea levels, increase of the occurrence of certain diseases, loss of biodiversity and economic impacts, and an increase in the number of environmental refugees. Climate change has therefore become, without any doubt, the most pressing sustainable development issue of our times." link
December 2011: Climate talks end with late deal. With talks running
nearly 36 hours beyond their scheduled close, UN climate talks have
closed with an agreement that the chair said had "saved tomorrow,
today" by forcing countries for the first time to admit that their current
policies are inadequate and must be strengthened by 2015. The European Union
will place its current emission-cutting pledges inside the legally-binding
Kyoto Protocol, a key demand of developing countries. The agreement here has
not in itself taken us off the 4C path we are on, but it has re-established the
principle that climate change should be tackled through international law, not
national, voluntarism." link
November 2011:Canada to withdraw from Kyoto protocol. Just a few hours after talks began in Durban, Canadian environment minister Peter Kent was confirming to reporters in the capital Ottawa that its involvement with Kyoto was over. Canada declared four years ago that it did not intend to meet its existing Kyoto Protocol commitment - to bring annual emissions in the period 2008-12 down by 6% from their 1990 level. They have in fact risen by about one-third since 1990. With 12 months notice needed to withdraw, Canada would begin formally withdrawing from the protocol in December. Russia and Japan also said they would make no further cuts. link
November 2011: Rich nations 'give up' on new treaty until 2020. Ahead of critical talks in Durban, most of the world's leading economies now privately admit that no new global climate agreement will be reached before 2016 at the earliest, and that even if it were negotiated by then, they would stipulate it could not come into force until 2020. The eight-year delay is the worst contemplated by world governments during 20 years of tortuous negotiations on greenhouse gas emissions, and comes despite intensifying warnings from scientists and economists about the rapidly increasing dangers of putting off prompt action. After the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009 ended amid scenes of chaos, governments pledged to try to sign a new treaty in 2012. The date is critical, because next year marks the expiry of the current provisions of the Kyoto protocol, the only legally binding international agreement to limit emissions. link
October 2011: The death of the Kyoto process? There seems little possibility that the summit in Durban will produce an emissions reduction agreement, meaning the world will soon lack any binding CO2 targets. Europe may soon find itself alone in the fight against global warming. link
October 2011: UN negotiators may seek to extend the Kyoto Protocol, excluding Canada, Japan and Russia, said Christiana Figueres, the UN’s top climate diplomat. The European Union’s conditional willingness to extend “has been exceedingly helpful by building a bridge” between developed and developing nations, said Figueres. Canada, Russia and China have all said they won’t accept new binding targets under Kyoto unless all major economies are bound. Any extension of Kyoto would still require agreement from about 200 nations at the talks, which would be a challenge to negotiate. The U.S. rejects the current UN system, which pools major economies such as China, India and Brazil with smaller developing nations in a group that has fewer commitments than developed countries. link
October 2011: World's leading companies commit to reducing emissions. The latest round of climate change talks in Panama this week may once again end in deadlock, but that has not stopped over 90 of the world's largest businesses stepping up their calls for governments to deliver an ambitious international climate change treaty. Firms are being invited to sign up to the 2ºC Challenge Communiqué. Scheduled to be formally launched on October 20 over 90 companies have already signed up to the text, including some of the world's largest firms, such as BAA, BT, Tesco, Nestle, Johnson & Johnson, Swiss Re, Shell, Toyota, and latest signatory Ricoh.Further companies are being invited to sign up and the organisers are hoping to exceed the 1,000 firms that endorsed the Copenhagen Communiqué in 2010. link
With the world on a path to a 4-degree Celsius or higher temperature rise by 2100, are the negotiations simply a waste of time and resources? Is there a better way of trying to rein in emissions and help the world’s more vulnerable people deal with the impacts of climate change? A growing number of climate experts say the answer is to try adopting a “building blocks” approach to addressing climate change. That means pushing forward with thousands of smaller international, national, regional and local efforts to address the problem while keeping the talks going to, with luck, provide a framework for all the disparate pieces down the road. “That is, I would argue, the future for climate negotiations,” Falkner said at a recent conference on climate change in the Caribbean. “It is a second-best future but one we must accept as a fact.”
Efforts to negotiate one global climate treaty, he said, face several fatal flaws. The first, as virtually everyone is aware by this point, is that the United States, the world’s second biggest carbon emitter behind China, and the biggest historical producer of the gases, is unlikely to ever join a binding climate treaty. Because of the country’s divisive politics and the need for a two-thirds vote in the Senate to ratify any international treaty, “I would argue the U.S. is structurally unable to ever sign up to a global climate treaty with binding targets,” Falkner said. link
Bonn 2011 wrap-up - June 2011: Fear of deadlock looms over latest climate summit. link
June: Diplomats argue over need for pre-Durban talks, as critics claim there is no point in additional meetings if progress cannot be delivered in Bonn. link
June: Bonn climate talks end with no agreement on Kyoto, finance. link
Cancun wrap-up - The world's governments agreed to modest steps to combat climate change and to give more money to poor countries, but they put off until next year tough decisions on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. link
May 30 2011: Major nations abstain from Kyoto process. Russia, Japan and Canada told the G8 they would not join a second round of carbon cuts under the Kyoto Protocol at United Nations talks this year and the US reiterated it would remain outside the treaty. The future of the Kyoto Protocol has become central to efforts to negotiate reductions of carbon emissions. They argued that the Kyoto format did not require developing countries, including China, the world's No. 1 carbon emitter, to make targeted emission cuts.Last Thursday US President, Barack Obama, confirmed Washington would not join an updated Kyoto Protocol. The US, the second-largest carbon emitter, signed the protocol in 1997 but in 2001 the then president, George W. Bush, said he would not put it to the Senate for ratification. link [June 9: Canada confirms that it would not support an extended Kyoto Protocol after 2012, joining Japan and Russia in rejecting a new round of the climate emissions pact - link]
April 2011: Bangkok. Delegates from nearly 200 countries began a six-day U.N. meeting in the Thai capital Bangkok today on crafting a tougher climate pact that boosts global efforts to curb emissions from industry, farms and deforestation. The radiation crisis at the quake and tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex in Japan will probably have repercussions on the international climate negotiations. link
last round of U.N. climate
talks before an annual summit in South Africa this year will be held in
Panama. The inter-sessional meeting will be held in Panama City
from October 1 to 7.
A leaked letter from the United Nations' climate chief suggests the Copenhagen climate summit failed because the presence of 130 world leaders paralysed decision-making and the Danish presidency backed the US and other western nations over the interests of the poor. Yvo deBoer wrote: "Inviting heads of state seemed like a good idea. But it seriously backfired, " he wrote. "Their early arrival did not have the catalytic effect that was hoped for. link
October 2012: Why climate talks may be failing. According to a new study, focusing on the 2°C goal guaranteed climate
talks failure as there’s no hard evidence that any specific temperature target
marks a dangerous threshold, with clear consequences for crossing it. Instead,
there is plenty of evidence that more and faster warming entails greater risks
of major consequences, such as the collapse of the polar ice sheets. This uncertainty,
the study argues, provides an incentive for countries to be free-loaders,
jumping on board with the agreement without making potentially costly emissions
September: Meeting in Geneva. About 45 nations met to seek ways of raising billions of dollars pledged to help poor nations combat climate change, warning them of a 'long haul' as rich nations are hit by austerity cuts. Christiana Figeuras, head of the Bonn-based U.N. Climate Change Secretariat since July 2010, predicted there would be no new global treaty resulting from Cancun in December despite the Pakistan flooding and Russian heatwaves being "warning bells" about the risks of inaction. Cancun could at best end up setting a new deadline for working out a more binding deal by the end of 2012. link (pictured, Christiana Figeures, appointed Executive Secretary - UNFCCC.)
June 8: Central African countries confront rich nations that use a forest accounting "trick" that would allow them to boost their planet warming emissions without penalty. link
Bolivia- April 20-22 2010: More than 90 governments are sending delegations to Cochabamba, Bolivia's third largest city. Also expected to attend are scientists such as James Hansen, James Cameron, Noam Chomsky, and actors Danny Glover, Robert Redford and Susan Sarandon. Bolivian President Evo Morales will use the meeting to announce the world's largest referendum, with up to 2 billion people being asked to vote on ways out of the climate crisis. Morales says it will give a voice to the poorest people of the world and encourage governments to be far more ambitious following the failure in Copenhagen. i"There will be no secret discussions behind closed doors. The debate and the proposals will be led by communities on the frontlines of climate change and by organisations and individuals from civil society dedicated to tackling the climate crisis," said Morales. link
Call for International Climate Court. Cochabamba conference closes with call for rich countries to halve greenhouse gas emissions and set up a court to punish climate crimes - linkNearly 100 Countries Formally 'Associate' with Copenhagen Accord.
Since the Conference of the Parties neither adopted nor endorsed the Accord, but merely took note of it, its provisions do not have any legal standing within the UNFCCC process even if some Parties decide to associate themselves with it. … The accord is a political agreement rather than a treaty instrument. The fact that so many countries have explicitly associated with the Accord (and at least as important, have submitted targets and actions) goes a long way to towards curing some of the procedural difficulties that surrounded the finalization of the Accord in Copenhagen. more
March 2010: China and India join Copenhagen accord. Since Copenhagen, there has been confusion over how a legally binding treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved. All observers, including the UN's top climate official, Yvo de Boer, are now clear that no such deal will be signed in 2010, with a meeting in South Africa in December 2011 now seen as the earliest date. The US now appears isolated as India, China, and many other countries, firmly support the idea of continuing with the two existing UN negotiating tracks to try to achieve a consensus. link
February 2010: Fifty-five countries pledge to cut greenhouse emissions. Examination of the pledges shows that no countries have strengthened the commitments which they announced at Copenhagen and doubt that a deal can be agreed in 2010 still exists. link
January 2010: Investors
with $13 trillion in assets call for governments rules.