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 is an ardent writer of environment and development issues, he graduate of Enlish and development major and current the partnership coordinator of Global Unification the Gambia. Madiba can be reach at: [email protected]