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At Doha Climate Talks: Failed ambition and unfulfilled promises

For Immediate Release December 9, 2012
Contact: Niranjali Amerasinghe, +1-202-288-2204, +974-66469833, Alyssa Johl, +1-510-435-6892,

DOHA, QATAR—Today, countries again recognized the need for urgent action to respond to climate change, and again failed to take that action, says the Center for International Environmental Law. The last-minute deal lacks meaningful commitments and leaves critical details to be resolved at a later date. "This outcome represents a failure of ambition and yet another failure of political will—the latest in a long line of pledges to take real action someday, but not today." said CIEL President Carroll Muffett. "Governments have now squandered decades that could have been spent averting climate disaster. Nations adopted a new commitment period under the existing Kyoto Protocol. However, Canada, Japan, Russia, and New Zealand backed out of the second commitment period, and the remaining emission reduction targets are weak. Countries completed negotiations under the Bali Action Plan, but most of the work is incomplete and will be carried forward over the next two years. They also agreed on a general work plan for the Durban Platform, which is supposed to lead to a legally binding agreement by 2015 and spur more action in the short-term. "In an effort to close the negotiations, Parties have stripped the substance from the outcome," said Niranjali Amerasinghe, CIEL's Climate Change Program Director. "This was the moment for developed countries, particularly the United States, to show leadership, to fulfill their obligations to lead the fight against climate change. And they have not." Results across the board display a serious lack of ambition to address important issues. The process for increasing mitigation commitments is weak. There is no certainty that developed countries will increase public finance to support mitigation and adaptation in developing countries. Decisions that could have been made on efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation, known as REDD+, were pushed to next year. However, countries did agree to discuss the role that forests

play in providing benefits beyond carbon reduction, which is essential for effective forest governance. After contentious negotiations, action on much-needed loss and damage mechanism was stalled by a handful of developed countries, led by the United States. "The international community has failed to deliver what's needed to protect the rights of affected people through mitigation and adaptation," said CIEL's Alyssa Johl. "Now we're forced to discuss what's needed to compensate vulnerable countries for loss of lives, livelihoods, property and culture. Today, this decision has been delayed by those countries unwilling to accept responsibility for their historic contributions to this crisis." "In the wake of Doha, interest in climate action outside the UNFCCC will continue to rise," said Muffett. "While leaders may be willing to wait until 2020 to respond to climate change, their people are not. We are seeing more protests, more opposition to dirty energy and a growing body of climate litigation in countries around the world for the simple reason that climate change is the greatest threat facing humankind. The world can no longer wait for governments to catch up to reality in this process."

About CIEL Founded in 1989, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL),, uses the power of law to protect the environment, promote human rights and ensure a just and sustainable society. With offices in Washington, DC and Geneva, CIEL's staff of international attorneys and experts work in the areas of human rights and the environment, climate change, law and communities, chemicals, trade and the environment, international environmental governance, biodiversity and international financial institutions by providing legal counsel and advocacy, policy research and capacity building.