The Beginning of the End: Some things to keep in mind when the Doha outcome is shoved down your thro

by Anna Odell

It's becoming about that time where we can see the end of this COP (and with it, perhaps the end of the planet? But that's another blog). While there is so much work left to be done, there is now just a mere day and a half to complete it (though it seems as though delegates are rebooking their returning flights to the end of the weekend). Now is about the time when we will begin to predict the end, whatever that may mean, and the way that it will come about. When thinking about the possible outcome of Doha, there are some lessons that we can learn from our past.

Since the disaster of Copenhagen, the Convention has been very conscious that it cannot afford another failure. For the secretariat, an outcome, any outcome, is essential to ensure the legitimacy of the climate regime. It is the president and chairs' job to make sure that happens.


While it is easy to think that this is a mechanical process, from which decisions simply appear, the last hours of the COP actually play a crucial role in what the outcome will be (for example, “clapping wars” in the final hours of the plenary).

Though we don’t know the exact details of how the final hours will play out, we have a pretty good guess. Developing countries are being bullied into signing a suicide pact that will lock in inaction for the next eight years and condemn people and the planet. There is no “good outcome” here in Doha, and the possibilities of even an acceptable one have been all but lost.

Currently, in the draft text of the LCA, there are simply blank pages on some of the most crucial issues. The outcome of Durban was a precarious package, in which developing countries agreed to the ADP, on the promise from developed countries that the LCA would be successfully closed and implemented in Doha. While the LCA was pushed back to Doha, now that the time has come we see that the fundamental pillars of the Bali Action plan are simply absent. The developed countries are unwilling to fulfill their legal obligations and moral imperatives. During LCA negotiations, the United States stated that they were done negotiating this, and promptly disengaged. A draft text with blank pages is unacceptable, and I can’t help but wonder if a new negotiating text will appear from thin air in the final hours, and whose positions it will include.

There are some key things to understand; at a point in time when the developing world needs to have united front, AOSIS, LDCs, and other are in a binding hold. AOSIS countries are literally sinking and they need ambitious mitigation commitments now. Both AOSIS and LDCs depend entirely on whatever scraps of climate finance, capacity building, technology transfer, adaptation and mitigation commitments from the developed country parties they can have. Developed country parties are dangling the dregs of an agreement, but after all beggars can't be choosers. They are absolutely depending on something, anything, as an outcome.

So where does that leave us? While we know that there will be a bad deal, we also know that many developing countries are depending on whatever they can get. We must stand behind those countries like the Philippines and others, who have been consistently strong on upholding their red lines and let them know that we stand with them.

In the frenzy that comes after COP, the blame game will be a large, messy battle. While condemning all parties that will decide to subject the world to anthropogenic climate change, we cannot lose sight of who is truly to blame. The developed country parties, specifically, the European Union, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, have acted maliciously. They are the ones who have failed to deliver on their legal and moral obligations in finance, who have offered laughable mitigation targets, and who expect developing countries to fulfill parallel commitments. They are the ones who have forced the developing world into this suicide pact. As civil society, we must stand with those parties who are fighting to bring an adequate deal back to their people, and tell the story loud and honestly if and when they can’t.

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