Doha: The issues

So many media outlets are preening themselves over the spanking new capital city of Qatar, home to the International Climate Conference for ten days. However, there are serious underlying issues which bear a direct influence over the livelihood of up to ninety per cent of the world's population. What are these issues and what is being done?

The full name is the XVIII United Nations Climate Change Conference, which opened in Qatar on Monday, and in which 195 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will spend ten days in negotiations. Some media outlets are ignoring the story altogether.


The history? The Rio Earth Summit in 1992 which seriously addressed the question of climate change for the first time, preparing the ground for the Protocol of Kyoto in 1997, at which 37 States pledged themselves to legally binding GEG (Greenhouse Gas) emission control and commitments to reduction. Kyoto expires at the end of 2012.

Since then, and despite countless meetings involving all the main players and experts in the field, hundreds of countries, thousands of participants and millions upon millions of dollars spent, the progress has been tangible in terms of pledges and documents produced but in practical terms, absolute zero.

The latest World Bank report points towards a possible global temperature increase of four degrees Celsius by the end of the century, the World Meteorological Organization report on 2011 states that GEG emissions have reached a record high and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reveals that what was promised in terms of maintaining global warming at under two per cent is not fulfilled.

What is at stake here today should be recorded for posterity to judge humankind at the end of 2012, twelve years into a new millennium that has seen the most shocking human rights abuses by NATO and the industrialised members of the UNO, war crimes, murder of civilians with military equipment, interference into the internal affairs of sovereign states and breach of international law.

It comes as no surprise, then, that the African countries yesterday demanded compensation from the industrialised countries to cover damages and costs arising from the climate change which they caused. And the damages are real. The temperatures recorded at the Poles have reached record levels, the North Pole shrank this year to its lowest ever area; six of the worst ten droughts since the early 1980s have taken place in the last twelve years, costing 5 billion USD a year, expected to rise to 30 billion USD by 2020.

Five of the ten worst floods in the last three decades have taken place in the last ten years. By 2030, the annual cost of floods is expected to surpass one hundred thousand million (100 billion) USD; the first floods of the year are arriving earlier and are washing more and more arable land down the hillsides, silting up the rivers and causing flooding downstream; seven of the worst ten forest fires have taken place in the last ten years; the annual cost is expected to reach 90 bn. USD by 2030; eight of the worst ten storms have taken place in the last decade, at an estimated annual cost of 90 billion USD by 2030.

This is what is at stake, not the squeaky clean city of Doha in a country with an extremely questionable foreign policy over the last few years, supporting terrorists in Libya for instance.


Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey



Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey