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Experts Weigh In: How Can We Make Progress at the Doha Climate Talks?

“Two years ago at the UNFCCC conference in Cancun, negotiators agreed that the world would seek to limit global average temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius,” Andrew Steer, WRI’s president, said during a recent press call. “We are not on track for that. We’re a long way off, and the situation is very urgent.”

That’s why the upcoming U.N. climate negotiations in Doha, Qatar (COP 18) are so critically important. As sea level rise, wildfires, and devastating droughts showcase, climate change’s impacts are already being felt across the globe. Meanwhile, extreme weather events—most recently, Hurricane Sandy—serve as powerful reminders of what will likely become more and more the norm if action is not taken. When negotiators meet in Doha at the end of this month, they’ll need to figure out a way to make progress, both to finalize the rules of past decisions and how to come to an international climate agreement by 2015.

Listen to a recording of WRI's press call on the upcoming Doha climate talks.

How We Can Make Progress at Doha

Steer—along with WRI experts Jennifer Morgan and Clifford Polycarp—recently hosted a press call to talk about the key issues in play and what needs to done at COP 18 to advance global action on climate change.

Some notable quotes include:

1) On Global Climate Action—Inside and Outside the UNFCCC:

“We really have an opportunity now to push the reset button when it comes to the negotiations. Last year, the world agreed that we would reach an international climate agreement by 2015. Twelve months since that decision was made, there’s not much evidence that we’re making enough progress. We need to give a lot of attention to helping the UNFCCC and negotiators get to where they need to get to, but we can’t rely on that alone. We’re seeing clubs and multi-lateralist approaches, as well as conversations going on amongst the private sector, governments, and civil society organizations. These initiatives need to be encouraged and demonstrate success, which in turn would help us get to where we need to get to on reaching an international agreement.”--Andrew Steer, President of WRI

2) On U.S. Action and Establishing a Work Plan:

“After three years of big-moment COPs with dramatic ends, Doha is more about finalizing rules. There’s a series of disputes on a range of issues that need to be resolved before a 2015 agreement can be established, so an agreed work plan on the Durban Action Plan will be key.

Of particular importance is how the United States enters the field. After a win in the election, one would hope the Obama team comes in refreshed, with a new strategy that will indeed keep global average temperatures below 2 degrees, outline how the administration will use its executive authority to meet and beat its 17 percent emissions-reduction target, and even make clear that it’s going to adopt an economy-wide target in the post-2020 agreement.”--Jennifer Morgan, Director, Climate and Energy Program

3) On Scaling-Up Climate Finance:

“The Green Climate Fund Board and governments that will be in Doha will play a pivotal role in unlocking and mobilizing public and private investments. The real acid test for them is going to be what kind of incentives and investment conditions they can create that ensure global capital shifts from high-carbon investments to low-carbon and climate-resilient investments, while continuing to fulfill basic needs of the poorest and most vulnerable populations. This will be something they will have to grapple with in Doha, particularly in the context of the 2015 agreement.” –-Clifford Polycarp, Senior Associate, International Financial Flows and the Environment

For more insights on how countries can make progress at Doha, listen to a recording of the full press call. For ongoing coverage of the COP 18 climate negotiations, please visit our website.

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