Petersberg Climate Dialogue III: Environment ministers meet in Berlin to thrash out common position ahead of Doha talks

By Ed King

The lack of ambition and goals for the Doha round of UNFCCC talks will be on the agenda today as ministers from 35 countries representing various international climate negotiating groups meet in Berlin.

The third Petersberg Climate Dialogue entitled ‘Matching Ambition with Action’ takes place between July 16-17, two months before the next round of UN climate talks in Bangkok.

The first Petersberg dialogue was held in 2010 on the back of the disappointing Copenhagen climate talks of 2009.

Since then negotiations are regarded to have got back on track, with nations agreeing the ‘Durban Platform’ at the 2011 COP17 talks, setting the foundations for a global climate treaty in 2015.

The Petersberg Dialogue in 2011 laid the groundwork for the Durban Platform agreement

The Berlin talks will be co-chaired by Germany and COP18 hosts Qatar – who say the agenda will be split into three sections:

– The ambition gap between the targets set so far and what actually needs to be done to meet the 2°C target

– Transformation to a low-emission economy as a strategy for modernisation and growth

– The new climate treaty to be negotiated by 2015 and implemented from 2020

Qatar’s role at these talks will be under plenty of scrutiny.

There have been suggestions the Middle-East state does not have a clear agenda for the Doha talks, although Deputy Prime Minister Abdulla bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, who will chair COP18, insisted in Rio his country would demonstrate leadership.

The latest round of UNFCCC talks in Bonn were beset by long and complex arguments over the meaning of equity and importance of ‘historical responsibility’ in the process.

Germany’s new Environment Minister Peter Altmaier says these ministerial talks are vital in order to get plans for Qatar back on track.

“The international climate process needs new momentum,” he said. “We will take practical examples from different countries and use them to discuss how concrete initiatives and alliances can advance international climate protection on all levels.

“I am hoping the meeting will inject new impetus into the upcoming UN climate conference in Doha.”

EU environment ministers are also expected to discuss a new carbon emissions reduction target of 30% by 2020, together with the huge surplus of emission credits in the EU-ETS.

Poland is currently blocking moves to adopt the new target – and UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey said on Wednesday that he would be pushing his Polish counterpart to reconsider this position.

“Moving to 30% will be an act of climate statesmanship, one that speaks to Europe’s reason for being: collective action for the betterment of our citizens,” Davey said.

“And – by ensuring we enter the negotiating room from a position of strength, commitment and leadership – it can help secure a better future for all the world’s citizens, too.”

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