Doha failed to deliver, say experts
Qatar's deputy Prime minister Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah at the climate change conference in Doha. Photo: Osama Faisal, AP
GREEN groups and climate change experts have warned that the meagre progress made at the latest international climate talks will not be enough to keep global warming to a manageable level.
After two weeks of talks in the Qatar capital Doha, the Gillard government announced over the weekend it had signed up to a second round of the Kyoto Protocol, legally binding Australia to its intended target of cutting greenhouse emissions by at least 5 per cent by 2020.
The 18th United Nations conference on climate change also laid down a timetable for negotiating a comprehensive global agreement by 2015 that would involve all major emitters, including emerging giants such as China and India.
Kyoto compels cuts only from 35 industrialised nations - Australia, the European Union nations, Ukraine, Switzerland and Norway - that make up 15 per cent of global emissions.
The United States has never ratified the agreement. Round two, which will take effect on January 1 and run until 2020, has been further weakened by the withdrawal of Russia, Canada and Japan.
More than 200 nations attending the talks took the historic step of agreeing to look at ways to address climate change ''loss and damage'' incurred by poor nations.
Though no money was attached to the agreement, it potentially opens the way for future compensation paid by rich countries.
But the meeting failed to deliver any actual greenhouse emissions cuts that the environmental lobby says is crucial to avoiding catastrophic global warming.
''With the world currently on track to experience 4 degrees to 6 degrees Celsius of global warming this century, it is very disappointing that Doha failed to deliver any real progress to reduce global emissions,'' said World Wildlife Fund climate change policy manager Will McGoldrick, who was at the Doha gathering.
Mr McGoldrick said the international community needed to speed up negotiations in order to meet the deadline of having a binding treaty covering all major emitters in place by 2015.
Ultimately the Doha meeting ''fell short on ambition'', he said.
Erwin Jackson, deputy CEO of the Climate Institute - a privately funded climate change think tank - said that while some progress was made, it was largely ''business as usual for global climate politics''.
''It is clear that for an ambitious outcome in 2015 to be delivered then the ambition and spirit of co-operation countries bring to these meetings needs a reset,'' he said.
While Kyoto is regarded as far from perfect, it remains the only legally binding climate agreement and was considered a goodwill gesture by wealthy countries to encourage developing nations to discuss a broader deal.
Under Kyoto 2, Australia will be encouraged to make deeper cuts. By signing up to the deal, Australia will, crucially, continue to have access to cheap carbon reduction permits from developing countries.
The Doha meeting agreed to hold talks in Bonn, Germany, in April to start nailing down a global agreement by 2015, to take effect in 2020.