Will the Climate Change Conference in Doha change our climate?

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Feature story - November 30, 2012
As representatives from 195 countries meet in Doha for the Climate Change Conference which began on November 26, Greenpeace urges world leaders to accept that climate change is already a reality and to take corrective measures immediately to reduce the effects of global warming.

On the first day of talks, India, China and other developing nations appealed to the developed world to show a greater commitment to lowering their greenhouse gas emissions.  However, India and China are also under pressure to lower their own greenhouse gas levels. Also at stake in Doha this year is the future of the Kyoto Protocol, the only legally binding cap of greenhouse gas emissions, since its first commitment period expires at the end of 2012.

30 November 2012

The devastation in New York caused by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. Hurricane Sandy is an example of the extreme weather symptomatic of continued climate change, as storms continue to become more frequent and more severe. © Greenpeace / Tim Aubry

 

This year has already seen several natural disasters like storms, droughts and floods in India, China, Africa, Europe and the US which have caused loss of life and property. These warnings must be taken seriously by government’s the world over.
 
Martin Kaiser, Climate Campaigner, Greenpeace International says, "Climate change is no longer some distant threat for the future, but is with us today. At the end of a year that has seen the impacts of climate change devastate homes and families around the world, the need for action is obvious and urgent."

In the last five years coal has emerged as the big culprit again and the surge in coal use has caused over two-thirds of the increase in global carbon dioxide emissions. This has pushed greenhouse gas emissions to a record high in 2011 as seen in the recent UN World Meteorological Organization’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin. In recent weeks, the World Bank and the CIA have also warned about the consequences of unchecked climate change. These findings by different organisations must pave the way for a future where renewable sources of energy are the norm rather than the exception.

 

30 November 2012

A coal fired thermal power plant in Singrauli. In the last five years, the surge in coal use has caused over two-thirds of the increase in global carbon dioxide emissions. © Greenpeace / Sudhanshu Malhotra

 

Martin Kaiser adds, "The world’s energy economy is not just going in the wrong direction; it is accelerating in the wrong direction. In Doha governments must agree to the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol, and close the loopholes that could give countries a free pass to pollute for years. They must also bring ambition on immediate emissions reductions and urgency back to the talks."  

The Kyoto Protocol was first implemented in 1997. It outlined that all developed countries must reduce carbon emissions 5 % below the 1990 levels by 2012. However, the US did not ratify the Protocol. The EU wants the Kyoto Protocol to be reformed and made more effective. But for this to happen, India and China must make deeper commitments, which they are not willing to do since they feel it hampers their development. Developing countries feel that climate change was created by developed countries earlier and now they must reduce their emissions further.

Global warming does not pay heed to any of these political negotiations. It must be tackled universally by all countries.  Although the Kyoto Protocol has not been as effective as expected it is the only legally binding treaty we have on climate change.  Greenpeace is demanding that a second commitment period be agreed on in Doha, and that it does not carry over the excess emission rights – or ‘hot air’ allocation – that allows governments to trade their way out of any real climate action.

-Ignatius Thekaekara

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