Governments meeting at the United Nations Framework Convention (UNFCC) on Climate Change Conference (COP18 / CMP8) from the 26th of November until the 7th of December were able to agree on solutions to respond to climate change. The climate change talks were scheduled to end on the 7th of December, but talks continued until the 10th of December.
Countries launched a new commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol as well as agreed on a firm timetable to adopt a universal climate agreement by 2015. They further agreed on a path to raise necessary ambition to respond to climate change, endorsed the completion of new institutions and agreed on ways and means to deliver scaled-up climate finance and technology to developing countries.
The Kyoto Protocol, the only existing and binding agreement which developed countries commit to cutting greenhouse gases, has been amended so that it will continue as of 1 January 2013. The first commitment period ends on 31 December 2012.The length of the second commitment period will be eight years.
The agreement came two days after Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa delivered South Africa's country statement a day before the end of the UNFCC, in which she urged delegates to use the Doha talks to find a global solution to the current climate change crisis.
Molewa said South Africa regarded the global climate change response as part of sustainable development agenda and not just a purely environmental issue.
"An effective global solution to the climate change crisis involves the negotiation of delicate balances and trade-offs between a wide range of extremely complex, highly political and sometimes conflicting set of social, economic and environmental development issues," she said. "South Africa views the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol as the cornerstone of the Doha agreement. This agreement is important to South Africa and all developing countries," said Molewa.
Governments have agreed to speedily work toward a universal climate change agreement covering all countries from 2020, to be adopted by 2015, and to find ways to scale up efforts before 2020 beyond the existing pledges to curb emissions so that the world can stay below the agreed maximum 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise.
In order to achieve this, countries will hold meetings and workshops next year to prepare the new agreement and to further ways to raise ambition; to submit information, views and proposals on actions, initiatives and options to enhance ambition to the UN Climate Change Secretariat, by 1 March 2013; and that elements of a negotiating text are to be available no later than the end of 2014, so that a draft negotiating text is available before May 2015.
From the onset South Africa was clear that a strengthened international climate regime was needed to ensure that global reductions in GHG emissions, in accordance with what is required by science, to ensure that the impacts of climate change do not undermine development of the country and the African continent through, amongst others, drought, floods, water scarcity, health impacts, job losses, and sea level rise.
Governments also agreed at the Doha summit on the completion of new infrastructure to channel technology and finance to developing nations and move toward the full implementation of this infrastructure and support.
In terms of long-term finance, and to ensure that there is no gap in continued finance support, developed countries were encouraged to increase efforts to provide finance between 2013-15 at the average annual level with which they provided funds during the 2010 - 2012 fast-start finance period.
Governments will in the meantime continue a work programme on long-term finance during 2013 under two co-chairs to contribute to the on-going efforts to scale up mobilisation of climate finance and report to the next COP on pathways to reach that target.
Countries also agreed on support mechanisms in support of developing countries. Part of the support is a registry that will record developing country mitigation actions that seek recognition or financial support. The registry will be a flexible, dynamic, web-based platform.
Parties will meet again at the next UN Climate Change Conference - COP19/ CMP9 - in Warsaw, Poland, at the end of 2013.