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STATEMENT: CAP’s Light and Lefton on U.N. Climate Talks in Doha

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Contact: Christina DiPasquale
Phone: 202.481.8181
Email: cdipasquale@americanprogress.org

Washington, D.C. — Today, as the final outcome was announced of the 18th Meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP 18, Center for American Progress Senior Fellow and Director of International Climate Policy Andrew Light and Policy Analyst for International Climate Policy Rebecca Lefton released the following statements:

Andrew Light, Senior Fellow and Director of International Climate Policy, said:

In Doha, international commitment to eventually achieve a global outcome limiting carbon emissions is encouraging and all of the negotiators should be commended for finding compromise language on some of the thornier issues, especially over finance and equity.

This meeting marks the end of the track on “Long Term Cooperative Action,” which created the Copenhagen Accord and the Cancun Agreements.  While many have criticized the U.S. promotion of these measures—characterized as mere shadows of a preferred top-down legally binding treaty like the Kyoto Protocol—they provided the world with a model for a new kind of climate agreement which can increase rather than decrease the ambition of many countries.

While it is good to see the more binding Kyoto Protocol extended for another commitment period, those countries required to reduce their emissions in compliance with it represent less than 12 percent of emissions–nowhere near enough to limit dangerous temperature rise, even if all of them stopped all emissions tomorrow.

However, thanks to the Copenhagen Accord and Cancun Agreements, we now have institutions like the Green Climate Fund and the Clean Technology Center, which will do the hard work to create low-carbon sustainable development around the world.  More than 80 countries now have national mitigation targets, including all of the world’s largest carbon polluters, representing more than 80 percent of global emissions. In the end, we will see these agreements as an important step forward.

Rebecca Lefton, Policy Analyst for International Climate Policy, said:

It is promising to see the initial work plan for the Durban Platform completed and this new track in the negotiations take its first steps toward creating a climate agreement applicable to all parties by 2015.  But we must be clear: Whatever new agreement emerges from this new treaty won’t take an ounce of CO2 out of the air until the end of the decade at the earliest and we can’t afford to wait that long for action.  Unless the second stream of this agreement on closing the ambition gap between now and 2020 becomes more than just talk, it will fail in overcoming this critical hurdle as well.

Unilateral actions should continue along with bilateral partnerships to enhance on-going national efforts to reduce carbon pollution. We must build on existing platforms to reduce greenhouse gases outside of the U.N. climate change process and press for progress in curbing emissions in other forums, like the current North American  proposal from the United States, Canada, and Mexico to phase-out HFCs in the Montreal Protocol. Joint action on clean energy and climate alongside the U.N. process is necessary to reduce emissions now while building trust and good-will for renewed multilateral cooperation on climate change.

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To speak with CAP experts on this topic, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202-481-8181 or cdipasquale@americanprogress.org.

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