The Week Ahead: 2020 Global Agreement, Fate of Kyoto Protocol in Hands of U.N. Climate Negotiators


Climate delegates from more than 190 nations will begin two weeks of negotiations Nov. 26 in Doha, Qatar, to hammer out a plan for a 2020 agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions and, for countries that remain committed to the Kyoto Protocol, to decide on a second commitment period.

The meetings "will be a success," Christiana Figueres, executive secretary to the negotiations, said in remarks leading up to the Doha talks, formally known as the 18th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 8th Meeting of Parties to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. However, she said it is unclear which areas will see the most progress, adding that "political will is on the rise" for more ambitious global action on climate change.

As covered in a pre-summit analysis published Nov. 19 in World Climate Change Report, negotiators are expected over the next three years to sort out what the 2020 agreement should look. Delegates at last year's talks in Durban, South Africa, adopted a goal to reach a global deal by 2015 and allow a five-year window for countries to ratify the measure. Observers say negotiators are unlikely to resolve this year whether the 2020 deal will be a legally binding treaty or some other form of agreement.

Meanwhile, a subset of negotiators will try to reach a deal on a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol to begin after the first period expires Dec. 31. The United States withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol in 2001, and Canada, Japan, Russia, and New Zealand have rejected a second commitment period, leaving mostly European nations and Australia to reach a post-2012 commitment agreement.

In addition to addressing the role large-emitting developing nations such as China and India should play in a 2020 deal, the Doha negotiations will cover money for Green Climate Fund to help nations mitigate and adapt to climate change; the Clean Development Mechanism, which allows developed nations to earn emissions reduction credits by investing in low-carbon projects in developing countries; development and transfer of clean technology; and whether a 2009 agreement reached in Copenhagen to limit the rise in  global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels is sufficient to ward off the consequences of a warming planet.

IPCC Chairman to Address COP-18

On Nov. 28, Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is scheduled to address the Doha conference. IPCC is a scientific intergovernmental body set up by the World Meteorological Organization and the U.N. Environment Program to provide reports summarizzing the current understanding of climate change, its effects, and possibilities for mitigation and adaptation. The fifth report is due to be released in 2014. The United States is due to submit a draft report by Nov. 30 to IPCC on its review of scientific aspects of climate change for the fifth report.

Also on Nov. 28, IPCC will hold two side events at COP-18 to release reports on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation and Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation.

House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee 

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a hearing Nov. 29 on "State, Local, and Federal Cooperation in the Clean Air Act." As detailed in a Nov. 7 article, the Republican-controlled House has passed several bills in recent months that originated in the full committee that are designed to block President Obama's environmental initiatives, including Environmental Protection Agency rules to control greenhouse gas emissions. 

International Trade Commission

On Nov. 29, the International Trade Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on its investigation into trade and market trends in the renewable energy services sector. An Aug. 28 article covers the investigation initiated at the request of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which found that changes in government incentive programs for renewable energy have created uncertainty about the market's future.

Interagency Forum

NASA will host a federal interagency forumon “Climate Change Impacts & Adaptations” Nov. 30 in Washington, D.C. John Hall, a program manager for the Defense Department's Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program, will discuss DOD research relating to climate change and military bases. Sarany Singer and Philip Jalbert, members of EPA's Federal Interagency Committee on Indoor Air Quality, will provide information on climate change, indoor air quality, and public health.

State Developments

A panel convened by Washington state Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) is expected to release a report Nov. 27 on the effects of ocean acidification on shellfish resources. The Ocean Acidification Blue Ribbon Panel was formed in response to the Washington Shellfish Initiative, an agreement among federal and state governments, tribes, and the shellfish industry to restore and expand Washington’s shellfish resources, promote clean-water commerce, and create jobs.

The California Air Resources Board will hold a seminar Nov. 28 in Sacramento on "Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Agricultural Soils in California." Nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, is primarily derived from agricultural soils enriched with nitrogen fertilizers, according to CARB.

On Nov. 29, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will hold a webinar on "Responding to Climate Change in New York State." The webinar will provide an overview of climate change, its impacts, and adaptation steps cities and towns can take in response to climate change.











 of a , said . that includes developing countries including the United States that never signed onto the protocol and Canada, Japan, Russia, and New Zealand that have backed out of the agreement, and rapidly developing nations, such as China and India, for signs on whether a final global climate deal can be reached by 2020. 


The end of 2012 marks the end of the five-year commitment period under which industrialized nations--other than the United States--agreed to legally binding in cut greenhouse gas emissions under the Kytoto Protocol