Evaluation of COP18 outcome and impacts on Asia

by Shuji Imamoto Ph.D. (Chief Researcher at ECOXIA International, Global Green Institute)

2012 was the last year of the first commitment period of Kyoto Protocol, although the outcome of last year’s COP conference in Doha was disappointing, especially to the people involved, NGOs or citizen groups that had been very active in tackling climate change issues.

The debates and final agreement in Doha failed and postponed concrete target assignment of emissions reduction for each UNFCCC membership country, particularly for the main emission polluters, as well as its rules or technical and financial aid for reduction achievements. Nor could they develop the discussion on concrete framework of a new wider framework toward 2015.

Such poor results also let down greatly the Asian nations that include economically poor and vulnerable regions. They are also incapable of coping with the climate disasters by their own political and financial power.

One of the main reasons is that developed countries, especially United States, Canada, Japan and Russia stuck to discussion on market trading structures using or developing Kyoto mechanism, whose actual outcome was so little that we cannot expect it anymore.

Another main reason is that the confrontation between developed (OECD countries) and developing countries (G77 group or so) around “the common but differentiated responsibilities”.  During COP18, also in Asian region, there were voices to assign the same responsibilities to China and India as leading industrialized countries, but China clearly refused to accept them.  Accordingly, the solution of how we can make up the beneficial gap between the two opposite sides, still remains as the central problem for COP conferences.

Asia is the region that produces the greatest amount of emissions (35 percent of the world’s GHG emissions) , as well as the region that suffers from the most serious damage by climate change in the world  According to world’s risk report in 2012, 7 out of 10 natural disasters caused by climate change occurred in Asia and Pacific countries.


Serious problems in Asia, in terms of climate change would be 1) effective mitigation policies for China and India as global main polluters and sufferers today;  2) how to decline climate crisis —- floods or water shortage due to melting glaciers in Himalaya region, such as Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet and downstream areas of India or Pakistan;  3) how to stop expanding damages of frequent floods around low-ground areas such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka —– However, these concerns and counter-measures were not seriously considered nor discussed in Doha.

China, which has the largest population in the world (1.3 Billion), is facing serious deforestation and water shortage.  Last year, the Chinese government announced that China ran short of 40 Billion m3 water, and more than 400 cities did not obtain enough water, and 110 cities were so seriously suffering from water shortage.  The total amount of rain in China in the year of 2011 was the least record in the last 60 years.  On the other hand, deserts are already covering 18.2 percent of the whole country of China, coming closer to 80 km outside the capital Beijing.

The acceleration of melting glaciers in Himalaya mountains has been often reported. The glaciers are going backward by 7.8 meter a year in average.  IPCC predicted that 80 percent of Himalayan glaciers would lose by 2035.   Bangladesh is under constant threat of submergence. Many islands in the southern Bangladesh are shrinking due to rise in water levels, forcing thousands to move to higher ground.  It will be displaced by one meter rise in sea level in 2050.  In such situation, the government of Bangladesh is doubtful whether billions pledged by rich nations for global climate fund will ever be delivered, even if the UN conference comes to terms.


Japan is the only country in Asia that has owned the duty to reduce emissions based on target assignment of Kyoto, already leaving out of its framework, so she could not anymore sell or buy the domestic emissions she had produced, by making use of trading system between the Kyoto membership countries.  Because of such limited way to reduce domestic emissions, adopted at Doha conference, Japan was placed in tighter situation by her own “wrong” climate policy.

If Asian countries as a whole, especially LDC countries in Asia, can illustrate any positive or expectable scenarios by developing Doha agreement outcome, it would just be early implementation of concrete counter-measures to tackle “loss and damage” in adaptation policy, or build up financial or technical aid projects to make use of GCF (Green Climate Fund), led by developed nations as main polluters.


by Shuji IMAMOTO  [email protected]

For more ECOXIA reports on COP18, visit: http://ecoloj2007.wix.com/ecoxia/apps/blog/outcomes-of-cop-18-the-gateway-to 

02/10/2013 – 15:26


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