Doha Climate Talks Enter Into Final Week
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The climate talks here in the Qatari capital limped into its final week today with hard close-door negotiations yet to yield any visible outcomes amid warnings from highly vulnerable nations that time was running out.

The talks have a crucial agenda to decide a treaty which could replace the Kyoto Protocol besides ensuring that the parties to the pact commit to ambitions under the second commitment period which will come into effect from January 1.

India's negotiator Meera Mehrishi, who has been heading the Indian delegation since the talks began last week, sees some forward movement as the negotiations enter into the second week but is cautious in her analyses of the situation.

The talks, under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, is being attended by representatives from nearly 200 countries.

"The first two days we were going nowhere. Negotiators usually come with hard stands, but as we talk things start to go a little softer. I think after one week there has been some forward movement on some issues," she told PTI here.

However, she did not reveal much as far as the direction of talks was concerned.

"By the time the ministers meeting start on December 5 we will have some more clarity on where we are headed," she said.

The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) is also working towards achieving a deal by 2015 that will ultimately replace the Kyoto Protocol 2020.

In Durban last year after much wrangling it was decided that while parties to the KP will decide on the second commitment period in Doha, while the other large emitters in the developing world including India and China will be part of reduction targets in a post-2020 deal.

The ADP has had several rounds of discussions and have come out with a draft which is being discussed thoroughly at the talks here.

However, sources said the negotiations under this track have been bedevilled by the same old differences over the developed nations' insistence to put the principle of common but differentiated responsibility to the backburner. 

The developing countries insist that the basic principle of the convention that incorporates historical responsibility of emissions cannot be done away with.

"The developed (nations) would like to redefine what the principles of this convention mean. There is a point of dispute and we are saying that the focus should be on the convention and its principles," said Mehrishi.

The Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA) is another track that is being negotiated at the climate talks as this year the parties have decided to close it.

The elements discussed under the LCA include transfer of patented technology, means of finance, and the cornerstones of climate negotiations like equity and common but differentiated responsibility (CBDR).

As ministers including Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan are set to join the negotiations this week, the vulnerable nations urged for greater action.

The Alliance of Small Island States' (AOSIS) held a High Level Meeting yesterday with ministers and heads of delegation from the coalition of 43 countries that are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and launched a joint plea for action.

"We begin the final week of negotiations in Doha with the sober recognition that time is running out to prevent the loss of entire nations and other calamities in our membership and around the world," they said.

They also said that any deal should ensure that there is no legal gap between the first and second commitment periods of Kyoto Protocol and the use of surplus units from the first commitment period must be strictly limited in the second one.

Last week, the World Bank in a report warned that a temperature rise of 4 degrees Celsius by 2100 could cause widespread crop failures, malnutrition and significant sea-level rise.
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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