Improved environment for talks?

Editor's note:

As countries are hoping to negotiate an extension to the Kyoto Protocol, which runs until at least 2020, at the ongoing UN Climate Conference in Doha, China Daily asked four experts to give their expectations for the key meeting:

Improved environment for talks?

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Improved environment for talks?

Improved environment for talks?

I have five expectations for the Doha conference.

All parties come up with clear commitment and implementable plans and arrangements on how to continue the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol.

Those developed countries that don't join the protocol should make a comparable commitment as "role models". Otherwise, developing countries won't have the confidence to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Though negotiations under the long-term cooperative action working group won't reach a complete consensus, issues such as long-term goals and how the funds should be used can be transferred to the Durban platform for further discussion.

The Durban platform should be launched smoothly. Otherwise, we will encounter greater obstacles in reaching a global legally binding agreement before 2015.

When it comes to the funding issue, developed countries should take the action they've promised in the past. So far, many pledges remain void and many funds still lack money.

There should be progress on all these five aspects.

Improved environment for talks?

One of the main sticking points at the conference could be the implementation period of the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, which is until 2017, as small island countries have called for, or until 2020, as the European Union has proposed. Another sticking point could be the emission reduction obligations and responsibilities of developed countries after 2012.

Improved environment for talks?

I think the negotiations on the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol may come to an imperfect conclusion at the Doha conference, with insufficient commitments made by developed countries, not enough countries signing up to the protocol, and an unclear ending date of the second commitment period under the protocol.

Many developed countries may not want to be involved with the second commitment period and will strive to conduct climate change negotiations under the Durban platform. By doing so, they may avoid making any commitment before 2020, which would be disappointing.

Improved environment for talks?

Under the current circumstances, there are still contradictions between cutting emissions and continuing to develop. What if we treat the "zero carbon industry" as an opportunity rather than a restriction? Developing renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, and processes such as the production and the installation of aerogenerators and solar water heaters can help boost the manufacturing industry, generating a market even bigger than the automobile industry. By then we will achieve a win-win situation of zero-carbon development and economic development.

----- Pan Jiahua

Director of the Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Improved environment for talks?

Improved environment for talks?

As the world faces the increasing risk of climate change, the Doha meeting must yield meaningful results and convey a clear and active signal to the world to shift to green, low-carbon development.

I think the Doha meeting is a meeting in transition. Climate change talks have lasted for so many years and old commitments haven't been honored, while discussions on long-term action after 2020 have started.

Looking back at Copenhagen and Cancun, the public was counting on these international negotiations to spur all nations to slash emissions, but now we need to adjust our expectations. We cannot merely look to the negotiations to address climate change without boosting domestic action.

Improved environment for talks?

The vital focus of the meeting includes extending the Kyoto Protocol with substantial efforts on emission reduction, securing funding for the Green Climate Fund, and drawing up a working plan for the new global climate treaty.

Some developed countries previously agreed to reduce their emissions by 25 to 40 percent by 2020, but that figure is rarely mentioned. Many commitments were made but there has been no implementation. We need more powerful and sufficient efforts to slash emissions. There must be a working plan to make up the gap between politics and science.

Improved environment for talks?

The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol will expire by the end of the year, so Doha is the last opportunity to pass the ratifiable amendment and start the second commitment period.

The coverage and emission targets of the second commitment period under the protocol must be arranged at Doha. So far, Canada, Japan and New Zealand have rejected the second period, so bodies like the EU should play a key role in pushing forward the process. Besides, the continuation of the protocol is pivotal in terms of setting standards for the carbon market.

Improved environment for talks?

A recent scientific report from the World Bank showed that the world will heat up by 4 C by the end of the century if the global community fails to act on climate change.

For China, it's important to synergize the international negotiations with domestic policy planning. According to the current timetable, if a global treaty could be reached in 2015 and come into effect in 2020, that could be integrated with China's future Five-Year Plans, the structural reform of China energy mix, and China's planning for its carbon market. China needs to move forward at a concerted pace with the international community.

----- Li Yan 

Greenpeace East Asia climate and energy campaign manager

Improved environment for talks?

Improved environment for talks?

The Doha meeting is critical in implementing the consensus reached at previous meetings. We hope to make progress on key issues such as the extension of the Kyoto Protocol and the funding issue. Usually parties' stands are not very clear at the initial stage of the negotiations, but eventually all parties could reach an acceptable result.

Doha is an important stage, but surely not the end of international climate change negotiations. It's unlikely that all problems can be solved in Doha. The significance of the Doha talks is in making appropriate arrangements on remaining issues before starting a new round of talks.

Improved environment for talks?

Some developed countries want to close the twin-track negotiations set by the Bali Road Map - the Kyoto Protocol track and the Long-term Cooperative Action track - without solving the unsettled issues and transferring to a new round of talks based on new principles, which would actually violate the consensus reached at last year's Durban conference in South Africa.

Improved environment for talks?

It seems that the issue of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol was already solved in Durban, but what's more important is to implement the decisions made there.

The emission reductions set by developed countries are far from sufficient, and we need a regime to ensure developed countries take more action in the years to come. The issues could be solved if parties have the political will to do so.

Regarding the length of the second commitment period of the protocol, we think it should be eight years because it could then be linked with the existing 2020 targets.

Some small, developing island states think the period should be five years to push developed countries to take speedier action. Anyway, we hope technical issues won't affect the framework setting of the second commitment period of the protocol.

Improved environment for talks?

China is under significant pressure to cut greenhouse gas emissions. But it's also a fact that as a major manufacturing center, a large portion of China's emissions are not meant to satisfy China's own consumption, yet China is the one to be blamed.

It's arguable that developed countries bear the major obligation and they should foot the bill for their unrestricted emissions in the 200 years of industrialization, which caused the surge in carbon intensity, a major cause leading to global warming.

Surely China needs to make more effort to transit to a low-carbon path, and recently the "beautiful China" concept and ecological progress have been highlighted. That's inspiring.

----- Su Wei

Chief climate negotiator and director-general of the Department of Climate Change

National Development and Reform Commission

Improved environment for talks?

Improved environment for talks?

Last year's talks in Durban, South Africa, were the climax of climate change negotiations. It's likely that this year's talks in the Qatari capital will be transitional and pragmatic.

They could be regarded as a success if three standards are reached without a compromise, that is, they should be balanced, fair and pragmatic.

A balance should be achieved between developed and developing countries on their historic responsibilities but also the current and future scenario of greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, a balance should be reached among topics, including mitigation, adaptation, funding and capacity building.

However, even if we cannot reach a consensus on some issues this year, we should try and reach a global deal before 2015.

Improved environment for talks?

A consensus has not been reached on many issues, while some conflicts are very sharp. Many developed countries are insisting on the principle of "common but differentiated" responsibilities and insist that a new global climate treaty starting from 2020 should be in line with the principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

However, some developed countries think these principles are not so necessary in discussing the new global climate deal.

They also have different opinions on the function of the carbon market - some small, developing island nations and some developed countries think its function is limited and is not suitable for all countries.

Improved environment for talks?

Nations haven't reached a consensus over issues on the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, such as how to achieve a higher target under the second commitment period.

How could the target be implemented? Should the length of the second commitment period be eight or five years? How could the framework include countries that declined to join the second commitment period and how to achieve a smooth transition between the two periods?

Some developed countries are in a rush to close the twin-track negotiations. Little progress has been made in recent negotiations.

Improved environment for talks?

All parties think it's a common target to keep the 21st century temperature rise under 2 C and design various plans for emission reduction. Both developing and developed countries should strengthen trust and take joint action.

Climate change talks are important for addressing climate change, but domestic efforts should also be highlighted.

----- Yang Fuqiang

Senior advisor on energy, environment and climate change

Natural Resources Defense Council