Doha climate talks: ‘rarely has so little been achieved’

The Doha climate change talks have been labelled a failure by green campaigners, despite the Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey calling the negotiations "a modest step forward".

Arriving yesterday from talks in the Qatari capital, Davey said: “We always knew they would be very tough after the breakthrough at the same conference in Durban last year.

“We can be pleased that we have maintained the momentum towards a new legally binding agreement for 2020 after the Kyoto Protocol has expired.”

Davey was pleased that the Doha outcome enabled the EU to confirm its commitment to participate in the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol starting on 1 January 2013

During this period, the EU has taken on an emissions reduction commitment in line with its domestic target of cutting emissions by 20% of 1990 levels by 2020, and it claims it has left the door open to stepping up this reduction to 30%.

However the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) condemned a small number of Western countries for reneging on their commitments, claiming that negotiators in Doha had “failed to deliver even the minimum expectations for the UN climate negotiations.”

WWF’s global climate and energy initiative leader Samantha Smith said: “Some developed countries have made a mockery of the negotiations by backing away from their past commitments and refusing to take on new ones.

“And to make matters worse, it was only a handful of countries – such as Poland, Russia, Canada, the US and Japan – who held the negotiations to ransom.

“What science tells us and what millions of people experienced this year is that fighting climate change is now extremely urgent. Every year counts, and every year governments do not act increases the risk to us all.”

Echoing this sentiment, Friends of the Earth executive director Andy Atkins said:

“Rarely has so little been achieved by so many powerful people gathered together in one place – the failure to agree any meaningful international action to slash emissions leaves the world teetering on the edge of catastrophic climate change.

“Wealthy nations must shoulder the blame – they’ve put their short-term interests ahead of the well-being of billions of people around the globe.”

European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard admitted that the negotiations had been difficult, and would remain so in the future, but insisted that the outcome of the talks laid the basis for more ambitious international action against climate change in the short term and paved the way for a new global climate agreement to be finalised in 2015.

She said: “In Doha, we have crossed the bridge from the old climate regime to the new system. We are now our way to the 2015 global deal.

“It was not an easy and comfortable ride. It was not a very fast ride either. But we have managed to cross the bridge. Very intense negotiations lie ahead of us. What we need now is more ambition and more speed.”

Conor McGlone

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