The road to UNFCCC COP 18 and beyond - Energy and Climate Change Contents

2  Priorities

7. Building upon the international agreement secured last year in Durban, Doha needs to deliver agreement on a strategy for emissions reduction in the short term. There is limited time in which to make progress on this reduction.[11] This is because at the meeting in Durban, the Parties decided to adopt a universal legal agreement on climate change "as soon as possible, and no later than 2015".[12]

8. Commentators have noted that Doha may seem to be a less important COP, but at a technical level it still matters . The Kyoto Protocol and Long Term Co-operative tracks (the two old negotiation tracks) need to be finished and final decisions made, and the Durban Platform (the new negotiation track) needs to be built upon. The new negotiation track breaks the mould of the old processes, in that it is based on symmetry of commitment between developed and developing countries—this transition needs to be managed and encouraged at Doha.[13]

9. The COP in 2015 needs to be the year in which an agreement is reached. In 2015, China will be thinking about its next five-year-plan, and the US could be in a position to introduce measures in Congress. Picking that year as an important one will apply pressure on domestic policy as an international COP approaches, as Prof. Michael Jacobs said "making 2015 into a date that matters is more likely to get countries to commit." [14]

10. The progress required this year in Doha is relatively modest, so it is important that expectations are not too high to avoid it being labelled "another failure".[15] Doha is an important opportunity for all nations to agree on what they mean by equity and what is going to be fair for all—once these principles of equity are agreed upon, the detailed content can then be worked out.[16]

Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV)

11. It is essential that specific commitments on emissions reduction are made by 2015, even if they are voluntary; however, there needs to be transparency in the MRV process so that emissions pledges can be compared and actions verified. Doha needs to make progress on establishing the rules that allow comparability of different pledges—ideally, a single accounting system.[17]

12. In the long run, it is more likely that countries will attempt to bring pressure to bear on others which do not enforce their emissions reduction pledges by naming and shaming them, rather than trying to enforce those pledges through international legal action. Dr. Robert Falkner of the London School of Economics and Political Science commented that "as Canada demonstrated, you can commit to a legally binding agreement and then just walk away from it.".[18]

13. DECC said that to strengthen the MRV process the challenge is to turn the text agreed at Durban into actual reporting tables, containing information on current mitigation as well as policies for future mitigation for both developed and developing countries. They added that elements of the accounting regime need to be improved and finance needs to be included in the MRV process for full transparency.[19] Without transparency in MRV, this encouragement of compliance by naming and shaming would not be possible.

14. The measurement, reporting and verification process is vital for progress to be made on emissions reduction. Lack of transparency will delay progress, or stop it altogether. There is widespread agreement about the need for a single accounting regime for both developed and developing countries. We recommend that DECC push for this single accounting regime at an EU level and an international level.


15. As pointed out by Dr. Watts of WWF-UK, the UK needs to be "focusing very strongly on energy efficiency, which is win-win across the board."[20] Given the current economic situation in Europe, there is a strong argument for increased efficiency and indigenous energy production so as to decrease costly imports of oil and gas.[21]

16. The EU Energy Efficiency Directive needs to legislate to set aside some EU Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS) credits to increase pressure on emitters in the EU to improve efficiency. In addition, the use of EU cohesion funds (aimed at Member States whose Gross National Income per inhabitant is less than 90% of the Community average[22]) for energy efficiency should be supported by the UK.[23]

17. For example, Poland is reluctant to move to a low carbon economy, mainly because its electricity is 90% coal powered. Dr. Watts explained that it is not a question of buying-off Poland, but rather an opportunity "to look at how we can facilitate that transition". These opportunities could include using "the EU budget to get some extra wins that we need on energy efficiency and the Energy Efficiency Directive, being able to actually achieve those on the ground, getting a set-aside of some of the ETS credits that are being discussed in the Energy Efficiency Directive at the moment but would need to be legislated through the ETS Directive in future."[24]

18. At a time when resources are limited money must be spent wisely and efficiently. We recommend that the Government prioritise energy efficiency as a mitigation strategy. EU cohesion funds or EU-ETS credits should be used to facilitate the implementation of energy efficiency policies throughout Europe.

11   Q 2 [WWF-UK] Back

12   "Durban Climate Change Conference - November/December 2011", UNFCCC online, June 2012, Back

13   Q 123 Back

14   Q 149 [Prof. Michael Jacobs] Back

15   Q 102 [Sir David King] Back

16   Q 102 Back

17   Q 124 Back

18   Q 124 Back

19   Q 168 [Mr. David Capper] Back

20   Q 4 Back

21   Q 7 Back

22   European Commission Regional Policy,, July 2012 Back

23   Q 16 Back

24   Q 16 Back

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© Parliamentary copyright 2012
Prepared 25 July 2012