Doha – A Turning Point for Climate Talks?

Trying to thrash out a climate deal in a city built on oil and gas is like debating drugs policy in Afghanistan.   That is; a good idea.   The sight of a few LNG vessels pulling away to deliver vital gas supplies around the developed world should bring a touch of realism to proceedings.  But there is unlikely to be any day-dreaming of grandstanding this year in any case.  Europe has made clear its intention not to commit to greater ambition without support and Australia has already claimed the  Issaka the Otter award for honourably taking part with their 0.5% commitment.   Yet I believe there is room for optimism.  Could this be where progress made at recent summits accelerates?  Could this be where there tanker turns?  Here are my top three hopes for the next two weeks:

1. Reform of the CDM will come to the top of the agenda.  CDM is a great UNFCCC success story, yet CERs are languishing at €0.70.  This is bad news for investment in the developing world and bad news for international cap and trade markets.  The CDM Policy Dialogue has produced some exceptional recommendations to reform the mechanism.   Their report reads like a manifesto for reform.  Let’s see if it can galvanise the delegates into meaningful action to build a mechanism fit for the next phase of climate action.

2.  China’s will take its position as a climate  leader.  China is moving quickly and decisively towards a cleaner economy.  Encouraging China’s nascent trading schemes and clean energy initiatives by encouraging China to lead on key issues could be a positive outcome from Doha.  One practical step could be to amend the rules to allow CERs produced domestically in China to be used in their domestic scheme.  It’s a logical step, but will challenge the conference’s appetite to challenge the fundamentals of the Kyoto settlement.  Let’s not get hung up on whether China has reduction targets.

3.  Hot air over hot air.  It was a poor decision to frame the rules to allow for limitless amounts of ‘hot air’ (unused emissions credits) to be carried forward to the next commitment phase.  A deal needs to be struck on how much can be ‘banked’ and how much will need to be given up.  I’m optimistic that the delegates can get down to the numbers and come up with an agreement on this – not one that suits everyone, but something that will allow us to move forward.

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