From Platform to Gateway: where do we stand now as Doha climate talks end?


It was yet another convergence of the world’s environmental leaders and stakeholders for talks and negotiations on the global climate misery. The Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Conventions on Climate Change (UNFCCC) gathers perhaps the world’s largest number of concerned actors on this menacing phenomenon. It has always come with a hyped anticipation and hope for a tangible consensus on critical issues as emission cuts, climate finance, and adaption, and overall, equitable sharing of responsibilities.

This year’s COP, the 18th since its birth, held in Doha, the capital city of the oil-rich Gulf state of Qatar was said to have attracted more than 17,000 participants from all over the world that hoped to make progress, on new global climate deal.

With the Kyoto Protocol, (a protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that set binding obligations on the industrialized countries to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases) phasing out at the end of this year, the success of the Doha meeting was perhaps hinged on among others its ability to draw the parties to accepting the extension of the Protocol, and more significantly taking new carbon targets under the extension.

The fault line remained strapped to three critical areas: Ambition: A growing sense among developing nations that richer countries are not aiming high enough in cutting carbon; Money: Lack of clarity about where the money to help poorer nations to adapt will come from and Disengagement: Major emitters including the United States, Canada, Russia and Japan say they will not take on new carbon targets under an extension of the Kyoto Protocol. With these the conference set itself in motion, but how did the talks end?

The UNFCCC climate negotiations in Qatar could only produce a weak outcome that will do very little to sway our planet from the tract of climate calamity. Time is running out and as Tim Gore, International Climate Policy Advisor to Oxfam puts it, "We are now in the red zone in fighting climate change." Despite the agreement on an extension of a second commitment period for the Kyoto, regarded as perhaps the main positive about the Doha COP, the UN climate talks failed to deliver increased cuts to carbon pollution or a clear commitment to financially assisting the poor countries to deal with their adaptation challenge.
In the final analysis, the COP 18 ended on a low note. Despite success in the extension of the Kyoto commitment, the UN talks outcome remains insufficient to put the world on track to fight against the rising temperatures that are shifting weather patterns, melting glaciers and raising sea levels; all of them threats to sustainability.
The negotiations on our global climate change solution are frustratingly moving on a snail pace while mother earth continues to wilt under our sluggish moves. From Copenhagen to Cancun; from Durban to Doha, we fail to reach a binding deal and world leaders continue to down play the urgency of the matter of this mayhem. In the COP 17 in South Africa, the conference could only come up with a platform called the Durban Platform, a legally-binding process for all members that will ensure countries are unified in their reduction of Greenhouse Gas emissions. But this comes into force in the year 2020 after its signing in 2015. In Doha it is called Gateway and you wonder when we will actually enter for a more ambitious and genuine deal on emission cuts and adaptation financing.

It is high time that these meetings produced tangible solutions to the global climate crisis, for a lot of resources; lot of energy, time and hopes are put together to convene such a high profile meeting that only end in empty hopes, false promises and silly deadlocks on a life-threatening issue; a phenomenon (climate change) that proves potentially capable of adulterating our very own existence as humans if not adhered to.

The world should be much more serious with the fight against climate change. Unless the rich nations or highly industrialized countries uphold the moral responsibility of paying their ‘climate debts’ and becoming truly committed to collective curbing of the global carbon emissions, in which they are the major culprits, these meetings would continue to eat up fat budgets that could have been diverted into more productive global services, or even directed to financing of adaptation processes of the poor countries. World leaders are called upon to unclench their heavily guarded political will to undertake sound sustainable development policies and projects that would chart a course for a decent and promising posterity.

Furthermore, it is the collective responsibility of all to safeguard our natural bounties and to bar any act of injustice towards its exploitation, the repercussions of which is felt more by the weak and the poor. The absurdity of the whole nexus of the climate phenomenon lies in the fact that despite their insignificant contribution to global warming and climate change in general, the poor nations, including our own, The Gambia, continue to bear the brunt of the menacing threats of the looming climate catastrophe.

Madiba Sillah

Sub-Saharan African Cities: A five-City Network to Pioneer Climate Adaptation through Participatory Research & Local Action. Climate Change Projections for Port Louis: Adding value through downscaling

Climate change is expected to have severe physical, social, environmental and economic impacts on cities worldwide, both directly and indirectly. Although there are some uncertainties surrounding the understanding of earth’s complex systems, there is strong evidence in current literature and climatic measurements to demonstrate that, as a result of increasing green house gas emissions, atmospheric, land and sea surface temperatures are rising. Global model projections have demonstrated that temperature and rainfall changes throughout Africa, increased frequency of storms and sea-level rise in sub-tropical Oceans, will expose current vulnerabilities of coastal (and other) cities, whilst also potentially heightening risks associated with food security and water resources.

Global Climate Model projections of change are presented and discussed in ‘the baseline climate report for southern African countries including: Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania and Mauritius. This report shows the results from applying a downscaling methodology developed at the University of Cape Town to nine GCMs and the observed rainfall and temperature data from stations near Port Louis. The downscaling relates daily weather systems to the observed rainfall and temperature at each location on each day (to a point-scale). This report will outline impacts and vulnerabilities that the recently results may imply for Port Louis, whilst also discussing constraints, given the paucity of available climatological data (there were only 5 stations form which data was available for the entire Republic of Mauritius) and the limitations of the current methods.

Full report can be read at http://www.dfid.gov.uk/r4d/PDF/Outputs/ClimateChange/IDL-50410.pdf

Climate Change Impacts on Communities in Africa

Erratic rainfall patterns, prolonged droughts and floods have become way too common in Kenya and in other parts of the world. In 2011, the world’s attention was drawn to the severe drought in the horn of Africa when thousands of refugees flocked into the Dadaab Refugee camp overstretching its capacity, they were running away from famine and have been widely referred to as ‘environmental/ climate refugees’. It is projected that things will get even worse in the near future as the world takes longer to agree on necessary actions. 

At the moment raging floods continue to plummet the country making it almost impossible for anyone to believe there was severe drought just a few months ago. The floods have led to loss of human life and animal life (both wild and livestock), loss of property, destruction of infrastructure, crop destruction, mudslide, rise in incidence of water-borne diseases among other effects all leaving communities more impoverished and disempowered. Heart rending stories are found everywhere. Mzee Wafula just like my family has lived in the once productive lands of Trans Nzoia County of Kenya all his life. This is his home, this where his parents were born after their parents moved here from the ridges across the adjacent valley. For the umpteenth season, food yields have largely failed, and families are on the verge of starvation and as everyone else he does not know what to do. They have done nothing else than to till the land left by their ancestors, tending to their crops year in year out. There really is no other place to go or to call home if things don’t get better, but will they, and after how long? That’s the question. This and many other vivid examples is what drove me to actively participate in the African Youth Climate Justice Caravan from Nairobi to Durban to reach out to communities and influence the UNFCCC climate negotiations. Travelling down to South Africa by road from Nairobi I was able to see first-hand climate change effects in other countries like Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana and South Africa. 

In Botswana there was a heat wave in late October/early November with temperatures topping 40c something not been experienced before. This is just but an example of how climate change is ravaging communities in Africa leading to economic crises and impacting on communities’ socio-cultural set-ups. At current GHG emission rates, many communities are condemned to cyclic poverty and death from famine, floods and other natural disasters. It will be worse for most countries in Africa and other developing countries as well as small Island nations making it even harder for the already vulnerable communities to cope.

Winnie Khaemba


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Climate Revolution

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