Small island states see hope for climate change in Doha meeting

By Nikita Espangel

Earlier this month, viagra 196 countries met in Doha for the 18th Conference of the Parties or COP18.  The talks were not as heavily covered as previous ones.  Many had few expectations about the meeting, about it however according to Joe Aitaro, dosage a negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States representing Palau, the meeting had a few interesting outcomes with implications for small island states.

Cop 18 Doha panel
196 Countries met in Doha, Qatar to discuss the future of climate change. The talks ended December 7, with plans to meet again in Poland November 2013 for further negotiations.

The Kyoto Protocol
The Kyoto Protocol, the global agreement to cut emissions, was supposed to expire this year, 2012.  In Doha, this agreement was extended until 2020, with those signed on agreeing to a roadmap to create a deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol by 2015.   However, on the flipside, the developed countries of Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, and the U.S. opted out of this.  In addition, no real firm commitments were made to make deeper emission cuts by the countries signing on to the agreement.  So as it stands, the Kyoto Protocol currently covers 15% of current global greenhouse gas emissions.
Redefining developing vs. developed countries
The Kyoto protocol was ratified in 1994.  In the past 18 years, global markets have shifted.  Countries classified under Kyoto as developing countries have since then become richer, with more developed markets.  The question becomes which are developed and which are developing. Can India or Singapore be grouped in the same category as Palau? This is a continuous issue under discussion.  As a countries economy grows, so do their emissions.
The Durban Action Platform
Classifying a country as developed or developing and using that classification to set emission targets is sometimes seen as not fair.  Talks at the last conference of the Parties (COP17) in Durban led to the Durban Action Platform (DAP). This was an agreement that recognized the emission gaps of various countries.  All countries including the rich and developing ones have agreed to take on some emission reduction targets by 2015 more ambitious than the Kyoto ones.  It presents an opportunity to ramp up mitigation and finance.  DAP aims to set up emissions targets by sector, i.e. transportation, agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, etc. per country.  Many see this as a mechanism to tackle emissions more effectively.  The more specific the targets to each industry, the easier it will be to mitigate, i.e. set standards in developing countries.  In addition, countries need to also start reporting their emissions.
According to Joe Aitaro, this would mean implementing new legislation for small island states. With transportation, small island states such as Palau import a lot of second hand cars from developed countries such as Japan at a cheap price.  These cars don’t pass the emission standards for Japan, so they sell them to developed countries whom either don’t have emission standards or whose emission standards are so lax, it doesn’t matter.  If Palau were to pass legislation banning such imports “Japan would simply find some other country to export their cars to.”  In the Durban Action Platform, small island developing countries would need to do their part to “mitigate” climate change as well. This might be why all countries have signed on for further talks in fleshing out the details, so that everyone does their part, developing and developed countries alike.
Loss and Damage compensation
The last and most interesting highlight of the talks was in the proposal by Poor countries, including small island states, and the least developed countries.  Loss and damage refers to compensation to vulnerable communities for the loss and damage caused by climate change.  The developed countries including the U.S. vehemently opposed this idea as they worried it would open doors to unlimited compensation. These countries were looking for a decision to create an international mechanism to address the issue at the talks.  This did not happen, however with developed countries including the U.S. instead agreeing to discuss such a mechanism rather than outright dismissing the idea, this can be seen as a modest victory in and of itself.  It is seen by some as acknowledgment that some countries are being affected more than others.  Particularly with small island states, rising sea levels would mean entire islands disappearing.  
Additionally, a work program collecting data on loss and damage caused by slow-onset disasters such as droughts received an extension. The program will also consider climate change’s impact on migration patters and displacement, as well as efforts to reduce the risk, primarily “adaptation” of countries seen as most vulnerable to climate change.
All in all, some headway was made. Representatives from all 196 countries will meet again in Poland on November 2013 to further negotiate the terms of the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2020.  As well to see, if by 2015, some other international treaty can be ratified to address global climate change.
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