The Doha Climate Negotiations Briefing Book

USCAN's Doha briefing book aims to help climate advocates, members of the US Congressional Delegation, as well as reporters and editors, gain an understanding of the international treaty negotiating process in advance of COP 18.

USCAN makes complex global climate negotiations easier to follow by providing "need to know basics" on COP 18 and the UNFCCC, issue-specific policy briefs, and reports on climate action in the US.
Introduction to Qatar
  • COP 18 will be held from Nov 26 – Dec 7, 2012 in Doha, Qatar.
  • Qatar’s initiatives to address climate change and investments in renewable energy, could be viewed as inspirational to other nations in the Middle East to boost climate action.
  • Qatar is especially vulnerable to climate impacts, including sea level rise.
  • The Qatar National Convention Centre, the official venue for COP 18, is LEED gold certified building and the greenest COP venue thus far.
UNFCC basics
  • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international treaty to stabilize and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • A Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC is convened annually to coordinate international actions to combat global warming.
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the scientific body of the UNFCCC.
  • The new global deal sought by the UNFCCC process will not actually come into full effect until 2020.
Building blocks of the climate agreement
  • Scientists are in the process of developing the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC, due out in 2013–2014.
  • The two mileposts to meet in Doha are: 1. Adopt the second commitment of the Kyoto Protocol, and 2. Close negotiations under the long-term cooperative action track and lay out a work plan to complete the new climate agreement by 2015.
  • Developed countries need to reduce emissions by at least 25–40 percent compared to 1990 by 2020 to remain on track for a 2°C target.
  • International climate change investments are at a critical juncture. Resources for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) will be an important piece of a long-term commitment to securing climate finance.
  • Failure to reduce emissions and prepare for climate impacts will jeopardize development and lead to humanitarian crises rather than growth.
  • The US position is critical for setting the tone for success in regulating global aviation and maritime emissions.
  • COP 18 is an opportunity for countries to finalize REDD+ technical challenges and move toward a broader agreement on a REDD+ mechanism.
  • US leadership on adaptation activities is needed to demonstrate a commitment to assist the most vulnerable.
  • In order to increase transparency, all countries are required to report on adaptation and mitigation efforts, research, public awareness and education, and national circumstances. Developed countries are also required to report on technology transfer and financial commitments.
Climate action in the US
  • Climate activists in the US are driving climate and clean energy policies forward at the federal, regional, and state levels.
  • At the federal level, progress on climate and clean energy was blocked in the 2011– 2012 legislative session.
  • Climate advocates fought a number of defensive battles in the Senate to prevent a repeal of the Clean Air Act’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases.
  • Fossil fuel interests have funded opposition to climate and clean energy policies and created a "fog of doubt" about climate science in the minds of the public and policy makers.
  • Despite opposition, policies promoted and supported by climate and clean energy advocates are taking effect, including new Clean Air Act rules, California’s climate law (AB 32), and New England’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.



Photo via (cc) Flickr user Robert Raines

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