Every year the United Nations holds international negotiations on climate change, called the Conference of the Parties, or COP. In 2012, COP 18 was held in Doha, Qatar.
The 18th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 18) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) took place in Doha, Qatar from November 26th to December 8th, 2012.
The Doha conference, which was also the venue for the 8th Session of the Meeting of the Parties (CMP 8 ) to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, followed COP 17 in Durban. In Durban, countries agreed to establish a new legally binding climate deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol by 2015, and reaffirmed their resolve to tackle climate change. COP 18 in Doha was seen as an opportunity to finalize several discussions and processes in the lead up to a new series of talks beginning in Warsaw in 2013.
Canada’s position going into the conference:
As in previous years, the Canadian federal government showed little to no commitment to the climate file in the lead-up to the conference. In 2011, Canada abandoned its Kyoto Protocol commitment to cut emissions 6% below 1990 levels by 2012. In doing so, Canada became the only country to withdraw from the legally binding international accord after having first signed it.
During the Doha climate conference, CAN-Rac Canada drew special attention to some of the most egregious instances of Canada’s “climate fail.” These included breaking international promises on climate financing, withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol, cutting support for clean energy, muzzling scientists while attacking climate science, fighting clean energy policies abroad and giving over a billion dollars in subsidies to the coal, oil and gas sector.
Results of the Doha conference:
The Canadian government was seen as leading a ‘race to the bottom’ in the Doha talks. On the issue of climate finance, Canada insisted on holding out for at least three years before contributing to the Green Climate Fund. On the issue of mitigation, the Canadian government continued to fail to back up any rhetoric on climate change with real actions aimed at curbing emissions.
Overall, countries reached an agreement to extend the Kyoto Protocol (which expired in 2012) to 2020, to intensify mitigation work under the auspices of a working group formed in Durban, and to create an agreement for the post-2020 period by 2015. However, developed countries did not submit higher emission reduction goals for 2020, meaning little political will was demonstrated despite claims to the contrary.