Leaders warn of diminished enthusiasm in COPs if Doha fails

The chair of the African Group of Negotiators (AGN), Dr. Emmanuel Dlamini, has told a group of Non-Governmental Organizations at a briefing in Doha, Qatar, at the 18th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP18), that those countries that are stalling the talks are the ones whose leaders are not fulfilling their obligations for mitigation and finance.”

Addressing the group on the eve of the close of the 18th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP18), Dr. Emmanuel Dlamini expressed worry that nobody was talking about possible breakthroughs in any of the key issues at stake in the UN sponsored climate talks.

“Equity is important in all aspects of climate talks, precisely because you cannot treat the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) especially those from Africa in the same way as you would treat the United States, countries of the European Union or Japan and Canada”, Dr. Dlamini lashed out.

According to experts, the real fear, even among delegations of developed countries, is that if African delegations leave Qatar without a clear sign from developed countries, that the latter indeed mean business, the faith that countries from the region have harboured in the entire negotiation process would be seriously damaged.

The second major challenge might well be how to maintain unity within the African delegation, according to ICS.

Meanwhile, when the new chair of the Conference of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC), Ethiopian Prime Minister, Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn addressed his peers on Monday, he echoed this need by calling on them to “join forces to encourage Annex II Parties (developed countries) to specify the amount of finance they intend to mobilise from the public sector for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) during each year from 2013 to 2019”.

The AGN chair had hammered on the same message when he briefed African ministers earlier in the week.  “The problem”, according to the same experts, “is of course, how to have Annex 1 countries honour their pledges; but it is not necessarily easier to have all African countries accept to pile more pressure on the developed countries.”

For his part though, the CAHOSCC Chair down-played any difficulties that Africa might encounter at COP18, insisting on the force of the African Group within the UNFCC processes.

“At COP-15 in Copenhagen and COP-16 in Cancun, the African Group succeeded in starting the process to establish the GCF, whose governing instrument was approved during COP-17 in Durban”, he said.

The Ethiopian Prime Minister recalled that industrialised countries had agreed (at least in principle), to raise 100 billion US$ per year by 2020 in order to help developing countries adapt meaningfully to climate change and mitigate its effects on Africa.

“They also pledged, as part of their collective commitment, to provide new and additional resources; to provide Fast-Start Finance to the tune of 30 billion USD for the period 2010 – 2012”, he added.

However, a new Economic Commission on Africa (ECA) report on the current provision of climate finance shows that only a small fraction (less than 11%), of currently provided climate finance meets the UN commitment of being “new and additional.”

The report was released by the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC), and states that there are many lessons to be learnt from the current ‘fast start finance’ system, which was supposed to deliver $30 billion in ‘new and additional’ funding to developing countries, and was agreed at the Copenhagen climate conference.

All these unfinished businesses have left a cloud of uncertainty hanging on the possible outcomes of the Doha climate talks

Yet, the Qatari authorities have been at pains to assure participants that the Doha Conference would yield substantive outcomes that could satisfy the majority of delegations, even if only marginally.

The new President of the Conference, Mr. Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah of Qatar had called on governments to focus on essential tasks ahead of them to ensure that the meeting can deliver agreed outcomes and constitute another step forward in the global response to climate change.

“Climate change is a common challenge for humanity. We have a precious opportunity over the coming days, and we must make full use of it,” Al-Attiyah, said on the opening day of the conference.

Despite the clarion call, some participants have continued to doubt the capability of the oil and gas-rich Gulf state to act as an honest broker in the climate talks, when it is the world’s highest per capita emitter of greenhouse gas.

The Chair of the African Group of Negotiators, however, remains confident in the ability of his peers and governments of Annex 1 countries would get more committed to the letter and the spirit of the Kyoto Protocol.

While Seyni Nafo, the spokesman of AGN might not be wrong in saying that climate negotiations should never be declared “failed” before the final day, the AGN chair could be right to warn that “we must all be accountable to ourselves, to our citizens and to each other under the Convention”.

By Edmund Smith-Asante

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