COP18 Live: Latest news from Day 9 of Doha climate summit

Contact John Parnell in Doha if you have any comments or a story you’d like to share.

By John Parnell
RTCC in Doha

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Finance: Room for optimism on climate finance at UN talks.
Russia: Russia backsliding on 25% emissions reduction goal.
Brazil: Absence of acceptable Kyoto deal threatens UN climate process.

Today’s headlines:

USA: Have we just witnessed a seismic shift in Washington’s tactics at the UN climate talks? In the last hours chief negotiator Todd Stern has given a speech – where he seemed to suggest that Common But Differentiated Responsibility could be back on the agenda:

“Let’s provide a thorough opportunity for Parties to discuss all critical issues, including the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.  The United States would welcome such a discussion, because unless we can find common ground on that principle and the way in which it should apply in the world of the 2020s, we won’t succeed in producing a new Durban Platform agreement.  And we have to succeed.  So let’s have that discussion.”

Japan: Ambassador Horie is one of my favourite characters at the negotiations but he can’t half talk. Twenty-five minutes of a 30 minute press conference for his opening statement. He did confirm that Japan’s mid-term emissions reduction target of 25% by 2020 is headed the same way as Russia’s. Circumstances are very different in Japan however with elections and post-tsunami reviews yet to be resolved. Clarification on the target will come next year. The long term goal of 80% by 2050 remains.

Russia: Slightly bizarre Russian press conference. In the absence of a UN interpretor, Oleg Shamanov, their senior negotiator did the honours. On ‘hot-air’, they said the credits were “a certificate” of the country’s good work to reduce emissions. They also said they were keen on using carbon intensity rather than actual emission reductions in the future adding that they will look to keep this ratio of greenhouse gas output and GDP at a steady level. Comments at the end of the conference about using te AAUs for a “Fund for the Future” were described by Russian journalists as a new development, but possibly one made up on the spot!

Stern figures: You may remember that we reported yesterday that Todd Stern had got a few figures wrong in his press conference. Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists told us that while Stern said a Resources for the Future report found that the US was on track to meet its 17% targeted emission cuts by 2020 under current policies. However the report only includes CO2, none of the other greenhouse gases. He also outlines some of the ways the US is cutting emissions by switching to gas, and promoting energy efficiency. Here’s the video:

Todd Stern from Responding to Climate Change on Vimeo.

Ban Ki-moon to call on world leaders: In his ministerial roundtable speech just now, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that he is considering convening a meeting of world leaders sometime in 2014, to inject political momentum for a new climate change agreement in 2015, the so-called Durban Platform.

IIED Meet the negotiators event: Brilliant session from the IIED with four experienced negotiators, Jonathan Pershing from the US, Pete Betts from the EU/UK, Pa Ousman Jarju from Gmabia and current LDC chair amd Ronny Jumeau from the Seychelles/AOSIS.

Pershing was asked outright if he thought he’d still have a job in three months and replied simply: “I serve at the pleasure of the President”.

Jumeau said the “Doha climate caravan was lost in the desert” and pointed out that three US governors have requested $83bn in assitance post-Sandy so finding $100bn collectively for the Green Climate Fund, shouldn’t be an issue.

Jarju said this $100bn commitment should start now, not from 2020 onwards but did say he was confident we’d find agreement on a second period of the Kyoto Protocol.

Betts said the EU experience of working with countries internally of different economic health could prove useful to building the 2015 agreement.

Umbrella group: Speaking in plenary now, say they contributed in excess of $20bn in Fast Start Finance, more than double the EU. Also say they are sure work will conclude successfully by 6pm on Friday. I am less sure.

Transparency: As negotiators run out of time in Doha, talks are increasingly taking place in more informal, less accessible locations.

One negotiator told the IISD: “We’ve reached a stage where most negotiations are taking place in parallel, behind the scenes in informal-informals, so it is difficult to have an overall picture of everything that is happening, particularly under the AWG-LCA.”

I have just seen a group of negotiators gesticulating in a small circle under, and behind, a staircase!

Qatar: COP18 hosts Qatar have just announced a partnership with the Potsdam Institute. Around 200 staff will work at a new institute in Qatar. The Gulf state will also become the host of a new talking shop, the Global Climate Forum. The launch event had been widely expected to be the announcement of an emissions pledge. Those rumours have not subsided, an announcement may come through the Plenery sessions. If at all.

RTCC at COP18:

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