EU member states committed to an extension of the Kyoto Protocol but were accused of making vague promises on climate-related funding to poorer countries.
After UN talks in late 2011 produced a deal to negotiate a globally binding agreement on limiting climate change by 2015, there was much less progress in 2012. The UN convened negotiations in Doha in November and December. After difficult negotiations, the EU, Australia, and Norway agreed to extend the Kyoto Protocol – placing limits on their carbon emissions – until 2020. However, a significant number of other countries, including Canada, Japan, and Russia refused to extend their Kyoto commitments.
The extension of the Kyoto Protocol (originally meant to finish at the end of 2012) is meant to place a partial cap on emissions until a global deal comes into force. There was little substantial progress towards this final deal at Doha, although some procedural complications were ironed out. The European Commission continues to lead talks on behalf of the EU, although its role was complicated by Poland, which opposed modifications to the Kyoto Protocol that threatened its holding of “carbon credits” (internationally tradable rights to extra carbon emissions). The EU worked out a complex formula to preserve the Polish carbon credits, although other member states waived similar credits. Critics argue that this is part of a wider pattern of Polish objections to EU climate policy in recent years.
Developing countries assailed the EU as a bloc for failing to fulfil promises of aid to fund projects relating to climate change. Denmark, France, Germany, Sweden, and the UK made pledges to make up some of the missing money. Western negotiators also promised to set up a procedure for compensating developing countries for “loss and damage” resulting from climate change. This was particularly important to small island states such as the Seychelles, which have been important EU allies in previous climate change talks. Nonetheless, critics noted that the Doha talks did not involve any major concessions by China and the US, the two powers that are central to any final global deal.