The Doha Outcomes Part II – The Agreed Outcome of the Bali Action Plan

Briefing paper

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Date produced: 25/04/2013

The Doha Climate Change Conference (COP18) culminated on Saturday 8 December 2012 with the adoption of the ‘Doha Climate Gateway’, a set of decisions adopted by near universal acclamation related to amendments to the Kyoto Protocol (the KP Decision), the closure of the Ad-­‐hoc Working Group on Long-­‐term Cooperative Action (AWG-­‐LCA) (the Doha LCA Decision), the Ad-­‐hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) (the ADP Decision), loss and damage and finance.

This is the second of a series of three briefing papers analysing legal aspects of the KP Decision, the Doha LCA Decision and the ADP Decision. This briefing paper focuses on the Doha LCA Decision.

In 2007 the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its Fourth Assessment Report reaffirmed the prevailing sense of urgency in addressing climate change. Responding to the report and recognising the need for urgent action, Parties established the AWG-­‐LCA under the Bali Action Plan later that year. The AWG-­‐LCA provided a platform for Parties to negotiate an agreed outcome for the long-­‐term implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Convention) and was intended to address five issues: shared vision, mitigation, adaptation, technology and finance.

In the context of the 2008 economic crisis and the emergence of large developing country economies, developed countries increasingly perceived the Bali Action Plan’s expression of the Convention’s principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDRRC) as no longer reflecting economic and political realities. In contrast, developing countries maintained that developed countries nevertheless needed to take the lead in combating climate change, as required by Article 3, paragraph 1 of the Convention. Polarisation of developed and developing countries on the application of CBDRRC and the role of equity contributed significantly to the impasses which plagued discussions under the AWG-­‐LCA negotiating track. As a result, progress on key negotiation streams such as finance, technology transfer, and binding commitments regarding mitigation and adaptation action was slowed or reached a stalemate.

In Doha, the Parties declared that they had achieved an agreed outcome pursuant to the Bali Action Plan (the Agreed Outcome) and the AWG-­‐LCA negotiation track was terminated after five years of work despite its original two-­‐year mandate. It was never envisaged to continue beyond the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference (COP15), and certainly not beyond the Cancun and Durban Climate Change Conferences (COP16 and COP17 respectively). However, the mandate of the AWG-­‐LCA was extended at each of those conferences, evidencing the difficulties in reaching an agreed outcome and completing the AWG­‐-LCA’s work.