Doha — Governments meeting at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP18) were able to agree on solutions to respond to climate change.
The climate change talks were scheduled to end on Friday, but talks continued until Saturday.
Countries launched a new commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol as well as agreed on a firm timetable to adopt a universal climate agreement by 2015.
They further agreed on a path to raise necessary ambition to respond to climate change, endorsed the completion of new institutions and agreed on ways and means to deliver scaled-up climate finance and technology to developing countries.
The Kyoto Protocol, the only existing and binding agreement which developed countries commit to cutting greenhouse gases, has been amended so that it will continue as of 1 January 2013. The first commitment period ends on 31 December 2012.
The length of the second commitment period will be eight years.
The agreement came two days after Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa delivered South Africa's country statement in which she urged delegates to use the Doha talks to find a global solution to the current climate change crisis.
"South Africa views the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol as the cornerstone of the Doha agreement. This agreement is important to South Africa and all developing countries," said Molewa.
Governments have agreed to speedily work toward a universal climate change agreement covering all countries from 2020, to be adopted by 2015, and to find ways to scale up efforts before 2020 beyond the existing pledges to curb emissions so that the world can stay below the agreed maximum 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise.
In order to achieve this, countries will hold meetings and workshops next year to prepare the new agreement and to further ways to raise ambition; to submit information, views and proposals on actions, initiatives and options to enhance ambition to the UN Climate Change Secretariat, by 1 March 2013; and that elements of a negotiating text are to be available no later than the end of 2014, so that a draft negotiating text is available before May 2015.
From the onset South Africa was clear that a strengthened international climate regime was needed to ensure that global reductions in GHG emissions, in accordance with what is required by science, to ensure that the impacts of climate change do not undermine development of the country and the African continent through, amongst others, drought, floods, water scarcity, health impacts, job losses, and sea level rise.
Governments also agreed at the Doha summit on the completion of new infrastructure to channel technology and finance to developing nations and move toward the full implementation of this infrastructure and support.
The Republic of Korea has been endorsed as the location of the Green Climate Fund and the work plan of the Standing Committee on Finance. The Green Climate Fund is expected to start its work in Sondgo in the second half of 2013, which means that it can launch activities in 2014.
In terms of long-term finance, and to ensure that there is no gap in continued finance support, developed countries were encouraged to increase efforts to provide finance between 2013-15 at the average annual level with which they provided funds during the 2010 - 2012 fast-start finance period.
Governments will in the meantime continue a work programme on long-term finance during 2013 under two co-chairs to contribute to the on-going efforts to scale up mobilisation of climate finance and report to the next COP on pathways to reach that target.
Germany, the UK, France, Denmark, Sweden and the EU Commission announced concrete finance pledges of an estimated US$6 billion for the period up to 2015.
Countries also agreed on support mechanisms in support of developing countries. Part of the support is a registry that will record developing country mitigation actions that seek recognition or financial support. The registry will be a flexible, dynamic, web-based platform.
Parties will meet again at the next UN Climate Change Conference - COP19/ CMP9 - in Warsaw, Poland, at the end of 2013.