What did Doha achieve?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC's) Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation estimates economic losses from the increase in weather- and climate-related disasters, but with large spatial and inter-annual variability. Global weather- and climate-related disaster losses reported over the last few decades reflect mainly monetised direct damages to assets, and are unequally distributed. Loss estimates are lower bound because many impacts, such as the loss of human life, cultural heritage and ecosystem services, are difficult to value and monetise. Impacts on the informal or undocumented economy, as well as indirect economic effects, can be very important in some areas and sectors, but are generally not counted in reported estimates of losses. Economic, including insured, disaster losses associated with weather, climate and geophysical events are higher in developed countries. Fatality rates and economic losses expressed as a proportion of the GDP are higher in developing countries. During the period between 1970 and 2008, over 95 per cent of deaths from natural disasters occurred in developing countries.

Adapting to the impacts of climate change is now an essential part of the strategy for dealing with it. Measures that provide benefits in the current climate and in a range of future climate change scenarios, called low regrets measures, are available starting points for addressing projected trends in exposure, vulnerability and climate extremes. Many of these low regret strategies produce co-benefits and help address other development goals such as improvement in livelihoods and biodiversity conservation. Potential low regrets measures include early warning systems, risk communication between decision-makers and local citizens, sustainable land management and ecosystem management and restoration.

One important question that needs to be asked is whether the decisions taken thus far under the UNFCCC are adequate for dealing with the current and future challenge of climate change, and whether the scientific evidence provided by the IPCC in its series of assessment reports has really been taken into account. Undoubtedly, the level of ambition at the conference would be raised much higher by taking into account the diverse and increasingly serious impacts of climate change in different parts of the world. Equally important is the assessment of economically attractive options available to the global community for mitigating emissions of greenhouse gases. The IPCC has estimated that mitigation opportunities with net negative cost could lower emissions by about 6 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent per year by 2030. In other words, certain measures could have net economic benefits.

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