What did Doha achieve?

The 18th Conference of the Parties (CoP 18) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) took place in Doha over two weeks, ending on December 7. There was a range of expectations expressed before the meeting. To resolve competing claims for hosting the conference, it was decided that Korea would host a pre-CoP meeting to help prepare for the CoP itself. The 17th CoP had been held in Durban, where parties to the convention had taken a few decisions, essentially in the nature of continuing the dialogue along established lines. The one significant decision in Durban, which was a reiteration of the goal put forward in the previous CoP in Cancun, was to ensure that the global increase in temperature, in relation to pre-industrial levels, was kept below 2 degrees Celsius. It would be relevant to recall Article 2 of the UNFCCC, which basically aims at "stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a timeframe sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner". Hence, actions at the global level are required to make sure that the international community takes whatever steps are necessary to prevent such "dangerous anthropogenic interference".

Questions have been raised on whether the decisions taken in Doha or earlier have really come to grips with ensuring that this core article of the convention is fully met. Most of the decisions taken at Doha are for an extension of work already being done. One significant decision was to modify the Kyoto Protocol and extend it for a second commitment period of eight years, but some commentators have pointed out that this version covers only 15 per cent of global emissions.

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