Special Reports

Un Climate Summit Opens In Qatar

check http://cusanus-studierende.de/wp-includes/class-wp-post.php geneva;”>The 18th United Nations climate change conference (COP18) has opened in Doha, buy information pills the Qatari capital.

online geneva;”>For the next fortnight, up to 17,000 people will attend the conference. Delegates will be negotiating a new global deal on climate, but there are ongoing tensions between rich and poor countries.

A central issue at the summit is the the problem of “hot air” carbon permits.

The term refers to attempts by some wealthy countries to carry over unused carbon permits so they can be offset against future cuts.

Developing nations say this is unfair and reduces the value of any commitment to reduce carbon dioxide.

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South African foreign minister, officially handed over the COP presidency to Abdullah Bin Hamad al-Attiyah, Qatar’s deputy prime minister and the conference’s president, at the Qatar National Convention Centre.

After brief speeches by both, Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC executive secretary, pointed out the “unique” location of this year’s COP.

“Each COP is unique – and this is no exception,” she said.

“This is the first time the COP is being held in the Gulf region. On this historic occasion, the Gulf region has an unequaled world stage to showcase the contributions being made to reduce the Gulf’s food and water vulnerabilities, to put regional energy growth on a more sustainable path and to build a safer, stronger and more resilient energy future for all countries.”

Spotlight on Qatar

As Qatar welcomes world leaders to the conference, its own environmental record has come under criticism as a major contributor to greenhouse gases.

The climate talks have placed a spotlight on the Gulf Arab state, which produces nearly 50 tonnes a year of carbon dioxide for each of its 1.6 million residents.

Environmentalists question whether Qatar has the diplomatic muscle – and, more importantly, the political will to play a positive role in the critical two-week negotiations.

Jamie Henn, co-founder of the environment group 350.org, said “it is hard to avoid the irony” of Qatar hosting the event.

“This is a little bit like McDonald’s hosting a conference on obesity,” Henn told Al Jazeera. “If anything, it shines a bit more spotlight on Qatar and on the steps that can be taken to address the problem.”

Henn pointed out that Qatar had set some goals, including the plan to use 20 per cent renewable energy by 2024. Still, he said, the host country could do more.

Qatar, which is seeking to expand its global prestige and recently was awarded the 2022 football World Cup, insists it is committed to a successful conference.

“We are fully aware of the perils the world is facing as a result of climate change,” Attiyah said.

“We hope the conference will produce tangible results and reinforce international co-operation.”

Qatar “is also one of the 10 developing countries predicted to be most affected by rising sea levels”, Attiyah, who is also a former Qatari petroleum minister, said.

“Environmental sustainability is a key pillar of our national vision,” he said.

Qatar has invested in green technologies such as experimental solar panels. But the government still relies heavily on cheap natural gas to generate electricity.

By no means is Qatar the lone offender in large greenhouse emissions.

In terms of volume, China remains the top emitter with more than eight billion tonnes of greenhouse gases every year – an increase of 171 per cent since 2000.

China is followed by the US, which produces over five billion tons annually, although its emissions have fallen since 2007.

In third place is India. Its economic boom has made it the third worst polluter, pumping out nearly two billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

And then there’s Russia, producing around 1.6 billion tonnes of emissions every year.

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