The Doha Amendment to the Paris Agreement: What You Need to Know
In December 2015, representatives from around the world gathered in Paris for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, where they negotiated and adopted the Paris Agreement. This landmark agreement aimed to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, while pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. To date, 197 countries have signed the agreement.
The Paris Agreement works by having countries set their own emissions reduction targets, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), and report on their progress towards meeting them. However, the Paris Agreement is not a legally binding document and therefore lacks teeth to hold countries accountable for their emissions reductions commitments.
That’s where the Doha Amendment comes in. The Doha Amendment is an addition to the Kyoto Protocol, an earlier global agreement on climate change that ran from 2008 to 2020. The Doha Amendment extends the Kyoto Protocol’s commitments until 2020 and adds a new commitment: to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in developed countries by an average of 18% below 1990 levels over the period from 2013 to 2020.
Simply put, the Doha Amendment is a legally binding agreement that requires developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to a certain level by 2020. It is intended to supplement the Paris Agreement, which focuses on voluntary emissions reductions, and to provide a mechanism for holding countries accountable for their emissions reductions commitments.
The Doha Amendment is particularly important because it includes major emitters such as the United States, Canada, and Australia, which are not included in the Paris Agreement. However, none of these countries have ratified the Doha Amendment, which requires approval by at least three-quarters of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol.
In addition, the Doha Amendment has faced criticism for its lack of ambition. The 18% emissions reduction target is seen as inadequate to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, let alone 1.5 degrees Celsius. Moreover, some countries have already reached or exceeded their emissions reduction targets, which means that other countries will need to make even deeper cuts to meet the overall target.
Despite these limitations, the Doha Amendment remains an important step towards addressing climate change. It demonstrates the international community’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and provides a legal framework for holding countries accountable for their emissions reductions commitments. As the world faces increasingly severe impacts of climate change, it is essential that countries work together to address the root causes of this global crisis.