Delegates show their support for an extension of the Kyoto
Protocol at COP 17 in Durban
On Monday I arrived in Doha, Qatar for COP 18, the 18th
session of the UN Climate Negotiations.
The negotiations, which delivered the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, are currently
focused on extending the Protocol and agreeing a new legally binding deal
among all countries by 2015.
When talking about the negotiations, it is often hard to see the
immediate link to children. Not because it's not there, but rather because so
much of the story around the negotiations is about the politics of getting a
decision amongst all countries or ensuring any agreement is in line with the
science behind climate change. Whilst these issues are undeniably vital, they
often overshadow the fact that the UN Climate Negotiations have the potential
to deliver real change for children everywhere.
So as Doha gets
underway, what are the key issues on the table? How will these impact on
children? And what progress does UNICEF UK want to see over the next two
New Global Deal on Climate Change
In Durban last year, governments agreed a timeline and process for negotiating
a new global climate treaty, which will succeed the Kyoto Protocol and will
include all countries to a regime of emissions reduction targets. Negotiations
for this new deal will conclude by 2015 and the new deal will come into
operation by 2020.
Agreeing this new deal is a vital step for guaranteeing progress for children.
Governments need to agree the most ambitious, legally binding and fair new
climate treaty, to ensure there is adequate climate action to safeguard the
world's children from the impacts of climate change such as more frequent
extreme weather incidents both now and in the future.
It is therefore essential that governments make progress at COP 18 on this new deal to limit emissions. UNICEF UK
wants this new deal to also recognise the specific ways that children are vulnerable to climate change, so that the risks are acknowledged and action taken accordingly.
A gap in targets for reducing emissions while a new deal is being negotiated
would mean further unchecked climate change. Because of this, governments have
agreed to a second commitment period of Kyoto
to cover this negotiating.
Without a "rule based system" of climate targets in this interim period, there
would be no way to ensure that emissions don't increase. This in turn could
mean further climate impacts for children in the most vulnerable countries and
prolong the transition to a low carbon society in developed countries.
In Doha, agreement must be reached between countries on the timeline and conditions for
the extension of the Kyoto Protocol. UNICEF UK is looking for this to be
achieved so that we are still on course to curbing climate change and its
impacts on the world's children.
The final key issue for children in the negotiations is that of climate
finance. As I have blogged previously, governments agreed in 2009 to mobilise
$100 billion of new and additional money a year to help vulnerable countries
cope with the impacts of climate change. This $100 billion is essential to
ensure that there are enough resources to equip children and communities in
vulnerable countries with the skills and tools they need to cope with a
changing climate. However, so far no progress has been made on mobilising these
funds. This autumn, UNICEF UK
ran a campaign asking the UK
government to speak up for children and commit their share of
Whilst no country has come
forward at COP 18 with pledges towards the $100 billion a year goal, there is
still scope for important progress to be made on this issue in Doha. Importantly, governments will consider
key questions on climate finance such as deciding where the money will come
from and a timeline for progress in mobilising the funds. Agreement on these
steps is important in ensuring that children will have enough resources to survive and thrive despite climate change. UNICEF UK would like the UK to take a leadership role in
securing such decisions.
So despite first glances, there
is actually a lot at stake for children at COP 18 in Doha. UNICEF is working at the negotiations
over the next two weeks to ensure that action agreed reflects the climate risks
that children face and the important role that they can play in climate
solutions. Now, its time for the governments, including the UK, to take action.
Jazmin Burgess is UNICEF UK's climate change policy officer. She is currently attending the COP 18 talks in Doha.