Doha — Climate change is a challenge for all humanity, which necessitates serious efforts to be made to mitigate its effects, thus securing a better future for everyone, says Qatar's Deputy Prime Minister and COP18 President, Bin Hamad Abdullah al-Attiya.
He was speaking at the opening session of the 18th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP18) in Doha. This round of talks is expected to build on the outcomes achieved at COP17 held in Durban last year. President Abdullah al-Attiya is taking over from outgoing COP17 President, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
Minister Nkoana-Mashabane was lauded for steering the UN climate summit to a historic conclusion.
In Durban last year, Parties agreed on three points, namely:
* implementing urgent action now, from 2013 to 2020, including the adoption of a 2nd Commitment Period under the Kyoto Protocol; and a number of institutional mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund;
* acknowledging the inadequate commitments to reduce emissions made thus far, a work programme was agreed upon, in order to increase current pre-2020 levels of ambition;
* and action for the future with the negotiation of a legal agreement for the period beyond 2020.
More than 15 000 delegates have converged in Doha for the climate talks. President Abdullah al-Attiya urged delegates to use the next few days to come up with viable solutions.
"Our achievements here in Doha will draw on past success, and I am optimistic about your readiness to work and cooperate with us during the next two weeks. We have to reach an agreement on the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol; build on progress in Bali; and make progress on our agreement in Durban," he said.
He described the conference as an historic event of major importance. "This is because of the topics that it addresses on its agenda; because it represents a major turning point in the climate change negotiations; and because for the first time in the history of these negotiations - seven subsidiary bodies are meeting, which constitutes an additional challenge to its administration."
He committed to work closely with his colleagues, the members of the office of the Convention, the presidents of the bodies and the specialised working groups during his time in office in order to achieve the best possible results.
"This will be made possible by the efforts of the parties and their representative delegations - because the negotiators are the essential basis to ensure the work of the Convention moves forward," he said.
To ensure this happens, official and unofficial discussions have been undertaken to hear different views seeking a unanimous agreement. The COP18 President said he was willing and ready to continue to listen and work with countries to come up with satisfactory results.
South Africa's ambassador at large for Climate Change, Ambassador Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko, said ministers must instruct negotiators to honour the Durban package of decisions to ensure that it is not reopened and unravelled.
"It's on the basis of the Durban outcome that we need to move forward in COP18. Doha must be all about the implementation of the already agreed decisions," she said.
Ambassador Mxakato-Diseko said that although there were some outstanding issues, ministers would need to work together to decide how to deal with these outstanding issues.
"We have, for example, created a number of key institutions to enhance provision of the means of implementation. We need to effectively operationalize these institutions and ensure that they can deliver on their mandates."
South Africa has pledged its support to Qatar and has encouraged all Parties to do the same.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) entered into force 1994. The Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC has been meeting annually to assess progress in dealing with climate change.
The COP is the "supreme body" of the Convention, its highest decision-making authority. The COP is an association of all the countries that are Parties to the Convention.
There are now 195 parties to the convention taking part in climate change negotiations. All parties to the UNFCCC are represented at the COP, where they review the implementation of the convention and any other legal instruments that the COP adopts and take decisions to promote the effective implementation of the convention.