Typhoons Pablo and Bopha hit the Philippines as representatives from 194 countries and parties were negotiating a global response to climate change in Qatar. But its strong winds failed to make an impact in the Qatari capital of Doha, which hosted the 18th round of climate negotiations under the aegis of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The Doha round ensured that the all countries "reaffirmed" their commitment to limit climate change but failed to provide a concrete and meaningful plan of action to counter climate change and its impact.
Held in the shadow of a series of extreme weather events, which give substance to the dire predictions by scientists, Qatar, which held the presidency of the 18th round of talks, set the bar of expectation at a low level.
Alternately described as a "housekeeping" and "transitional" COP, Doha was to deliver three things: launching the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol; the closing of negotiations on the Bali roadmap or the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action; and to begin work on a new global regime that is applicable to all countries.
Doha succeeded in doing all three, but failed to push the world to reduce emissions that would avoid making extreme weather events the "new normal". Much more could have been done at Doha but a weak presidency by Qatar meant that it would not push the world to do more than it was willing to.
The credit for achieving the three process-related goals cannot be Qatar's alone. There were many stakeholders: South Africa, which hosted the 2011 Durban round of talks; the vulnerable developing countries at the forefront of climate change; and the European Union that had put its might behind the post-2020 global regime; and others. All worked to ensure that the Durban decisions were not overturned.
The Kyoto Protocol, the only legally-binding agreement on climate change, entered its second and final phase, beginning from 2013 to 2020. The iconic protocol requires only the industrialised countries to take on legally-binding emission reduction targets. Many countries - Japan, Russia and New Zealand - refused to sign on to the second commitment period. Belarus is understood to have indicated that it will withdraw, and Ukraine and Kazakhstan might do the same. Canada has withdrawn from Protocol.
The EU and Australia are among those that have taken on reduction targets for the 2013-20 period. The signatories of the second commitment period, accounting for 12-15% of global emissions, have agreed to reduce emissions by 18% from the 1990 levels, against the 5% reduction in the first phase.
The negotiations on the Bali roadmap also came to a close. This track of the negotiations dealt with a global emission reduction goal, emission reduction by non-Kyoto Protocol countries, voluntary efforts by developing countries to limit emissions, finance and technological support for developing countries and capacity building to deal with climate change.