It was a nail-biting end that came in a no-ball game. For the past 20 years, the world has been haggling about who will cut greenhouse gas emissions and how much. In the same 20 years, the science of climate change has become more certain. The world is beginning to witness what the future will look like – more extreme events like the typhoon Bopha and the tropical storm Sandy are expected to cripple life and livelihoods across the world. In fact, as the leader of the Philippine delegation emotionally pointed out, the world is running out of time -- his ocean nation has seen 17 killer typhoons in the past year.
But even as science has become more certain, action has become uncertain. Take the Doha package, for instance: it is full of words, but no action. The second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (KP) has been agreed upon, but with weak targets and loopholes. The US has not agreed to any meaningful emission reduction. The financial package is a broken promise.
But Doha is still significant for one thing: the fact that the world has not dismantled the principles that will govern its efforts to cut emissions. These principles, after the bitterest of fights, have been retained and strengthened. The outcome of the conference states that efforts of parties will be taken on the “basis of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respected capabilities”.
CoP18, Doha: An assessment A Gateway that leads nowhere | Centre for Science and Environment