Challenges face UN climate summit in Qatar

Global Post, By Kaitlin Funaro, November 25

Nearly 200 countries will meet in oil-rich Qatar starting Monday to make progress in the ongoing challenge of slowing global warming.

Poorer countries are facing an uphill battle to raise funds to fight against climate change. Wealthier nations have given nearly $30 billion in grants and loans since 2009 but those commitments expire this year, reports AP.

Tim Gore of the British charity Oxfam said developing countries stand before a “climate fiscal cliff”.

“So what we need for those countries in the next two weeks are firm commitments from rich countries to keep giving money to help them to adapt to climate change,” he told The Associated Press on Sunday.

Nations will also have to negotiate an expansion of the Kyoto Protocol, which is set to expire at the end of the year.


The Guardian: Obama under pressure to show Doha he is serious on climate change
AP: Will US role at climate talks change after storm?
Hullabaloo: Climate change is a disaster that isn’t just about poorer countries
ClimateProgress: New Scientist Special Report: 7 Reasons Climate Change Is ‘Even Worse Than We Thought’

Previously: Degrees of devastation: major report warns of drastically hotter planet
Previously: Eight Degrees [Fahrenheit] Of Warming

And via Andy Revkin:

COP18: Who to follow on twitter at the Doha climate change talks

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  • Meet the Bi-Partisan Group of Senators Pressuring Obama to Speed Up Destruction of the Planet

    A group of 18 senators (nine from each party) are calling on President Obama to approve expanded fossil fuel exploitation without regard for global warming.

    Alternet, By William Boardman, November 23

    Based on the same publicly available scientific information, the World Bank issues a report calling for prompt action to ward off global warming , a coalition of the world’s largest investors calls on governments to act promptly to ward off global warming, the United Nations reports that greenhouse gas levels reached a new record, and eighteen United States Senators (nine from each party) write a letter to President Obama calling on him to approve expanded fossil fuel exploitation without regard for global warming.


    When President Obama put the northern section of the Keystome Pipeline on hold last March, he also signaled his bureaucracy to let the southern leg begin. TransCanada began construction last August and when the work crossed into Texas in September, the Tar Sands Blockade set up a treehouse network with nine tree-sitters in the right-of-way for the pipeline, vowing to block construction until the pipeline was cancelled.

    The White House is expected to decide whether Keystone XL can be built some time in the next month or so, and all it takes to proceed is a Presidential signature. For President Obama, this decision will be a clear signal defining his real priorities: stopping the rise of the oceans and healing the planet, as he campaigned, or settling for short term economic gains with unknown long term consequences.


    The White House has not yet responded to the letter from 18 Senators urging the President to approve the Keystone pipeline as soon as possible. The nine Democrats (left) and nine Republicans are mostly from oil states:

    Max Baucus (D-Mont.) John Hoeven (R-N.D.)

    Jon Tester (D-Mont.) Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

    Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas)

    Mary Landrieu (D-LA) Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)

    Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) David Vitter (R-La.)

    Jim Webb (D-VA) John Barrasso (R-Wyo.)

    Mark Begich (D-Alaska) Mike Johanns (R-Neb.

    Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) Richard Lugar (R-Ind.)

    Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) Rob Portman (R-Ohio)

  • Gas tanker Ob River attempts first winter Arctic crossing

    BBC, By Matt McGrath, November 25

    A large tanker carrying liquified natural gas (LNG) is set to become the first ship of its type to sail across the Arctic.

    The carrier, Ob River, left Norway in November and has sailed north of Russia on its way to Japan.

    The specially equipped tanker is due to arrive in early December and will shave 20 days off the regular journey.

    The owners say that changing climate conditions and a volatile gas market make the Arctic transit profitable.

  • Doha 2012: US claims ‘enormous’ efforts to cut carbon emissions

    Two weeks of talks aim at securing a treaty by 2015 to cut greenhouse emissions

    The Guardian, By Fiona Harvey, November 26

    The US is claiming credit for “enormous” efforts on climate change – delivered in part by the carbon reductions from its investments in the controversial practice of “fracking” for shale gas.

    The claim came as nearly 200 governments gathered in Doha, Qatar, for two weeks of talks aimed at forging an agreement on the climate. Governments have until 2015 to draw up a binding treaty, the first since the 1997 Kyoto protocol, to cut greenhouse gas emissions and avoid dangerous global warming.

    Jonathan Pershing, a senior negotiator for the US, said: “Those who don’t know what the US is doing may not be informed of the scale and extent of the effort, but it’s enormous.”


    Greenhouse gas emissions from the US have fallen sharply in recent years, owing to the replacement of coal-fired power generation by gas in the US, following its widespread adoption of shale gas.

    By contrast, a new analysis by HSBC has found that China’s greenhouse gas emissions are unlikely to start falling before 2030, which could put the 2 degree target out of reach. China’s increasing role in emissions, compared with the decrease in the US, could redraw the battle lines of the talks.

    Enormous… jokers.

  • Coal-reliant Poland to host U.N. climate talks after OPEC’s Qatar

    Planet Ark, By Regan Doherty, November 29

    Coal-dependent Poland is set to host next year’s U.N. talks on slowing climate change after OPEC member Qatar in 2012, a move dismaying environmentalists who say both oppose action to reduce use of fossil fuels.

    Poland formally submitted its offer for Warsaw to host the talks on Wednesday to almost 200 nations at this year’s meeting in Doha. No other countries made an offer at a planning session on Wednesday, making its selection pretty much automatic.

    “Poland is a good place to go,” the head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, Christiana Figueres, told Reuters. “Here also in Qatar and in Poland what this conference does is bring the world’s attention to the host country and encourage that country to actually step up to the plate and do more.”

    Poland, which relies on carbon-intensive coal for nearly all its power, has expressed concern that greater action on climate will harm its economy. The country, which also hosted a U.N. climate meeting in Poznan in 2008, has led opposition to European Union plans to curb carbon pollution permits.

  • Doha negotiations witness tremors in climate geopolitics

    TNN/The Times Of India, By Nitin Sethi, December 3

    Doha – The negotiations at Qatar National Convention Centre have so far played witness to tremors in the climate geopolitics with a slow cleaving of the relation between the ‘allies’ of previous climate negotiations at Durban in 2011, EU and the association of 43 small island states or AOSIS.

    At Durban, EU had forged a close alliance with the AOSIS and Least Developed Countries in what the developed world began to dub as the ‘coalition of the willing’. Their target at the Durban talks was singular – to get the world to agree that negotiations should be launched for a new global protocol which would break down the existing differential obligations of the rich and poor countries and increase the emission reduction efforts.

    The alliance won a partial victory with the Durban Platform being launched to finalize a new compact by 2015 which would then be implemented from 2020. But developing countries, especially India fought back to make sure that the talks would happen only under the principles and provisions of the existing UN convention.

    But this time around in Doha, the alliance has soured a bit. The AOSIS continues to demand that all countries increase their emission reduction pledges or commitments immediately but the EU has lost the appetite to live up to its own pitch for an ‘ambitious’ deal. Its refused to up the 20% emission reduction target to be achieved between 2013-2020 under the Kyoto Protocol’s second phase even though it has already achieved 18%of it. Its announced that it will not up the pledge for the next few years.

    New Zealand: forget Kyoto, write new climate deal

    AP, By Karl Ritter, December 2

    DOHA, Qatar — Highlighting a rift between the rich countries and emerging economies like China, New Zealand’s climate minister staunchly defended his government’s decision to drop out of the emissions pact for developed nations, saying it’s an outdated and insufficient response to global warming.

    Other key issues at the conference, now starting its second week, include how to help emerging nations switch to climate-friendly energy sources and charting the course for a new treaty that would replace the Kyoto Protocol, which covers only developed countries.

    New Zealand announced before the U.N.’s climate talks started here last week that it would not take part in the second phase of the Kyoto treaty. That angered climate activists and stunned small neighboring island nations, who fear they could be submerged by rising sea levels spurred by global warming.

  • Economic group: World ‘on collision course with nature’

    OECD says not curbing greenhouse gases will have disastrous impact on quality of life, particularly for people in poor countries.

    The Guardian, By Mark Tran, December 4

    Green growth is the only way forward for rich and poor countries alike to achieve sustainable development because of tremendous economic and livelihood losses from severe climate change and the depletion of natural resources, a thinktank said on Tuesday.

    The Development Co-operation report 2012 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) calls for radical changes to an economic model in which rapid growth has come at a price to the environment and many of the world’s poorest people.

    “We are on a collision course with nature,” Angel Gurría, the OECD secretary general, said on Tuesday, as he urged developing countries not to adopt the “develop first, clean up later” approach.

    “It is time for a radical change. If we fail to transform our policies and behaviour now, the picture is more than grim,” wrote Gurría in the report’s foreword. “Our current demographic and economic trends, if left unchecked, will have alarming effects in four key areas of global concern – climate change, biodiversity, water and health. The costs and consequences of inaction would be colossal, both in economic and human terms.”

    UN chief urges ‘strong political commitment’ on climate change

    AFP, December 4

    United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday the world was faced by a global warming “crisis” and urged bickering negotiators at climate talks in Doha to show “strong political commitment” and compromise.

    Noting there were “mixed feelings” among delegates hammering out deals on curbing Earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions, the secretary general called for “urgency” from the nearly 200 nations represented.

    “This is a crisis,” said Ban, as a string of scientific reports warned the world could be headed for calamitous warming way above the limit of two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) being targeted by the UN.

  • China pledges ‘due contribution’ on emissions cuts

    Head of Chinese delegation at Doha climate talks says developed countries must do more

    The Guardian, By Fiona Harvey, December 5

    China has pledged to make its “due contribution” to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and tackling climate change, but said developed countries must do more.

    Xie Zhenhua, head of the Chinese delegation at the Doha climate talks, said: “We are working together with other countries on global climate change, and we will make our due contribution to that end. If different countries have different situations, that is understandable, but we are seeking common ground.”


    “Climate change is due to unrestricted emissions by developed countries in their process of industrialisation,” Xie said. “Developing countries are the victims of climate change.”


    Todd Stern, the US special envoy for climate change, signalled that the US was prepared to have such a discussion. “Let’s provide a thorough opportunity for all parties to discuss all critical issues, including the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities,” he told the conference. “The US would welcome such a discussion, because unless we can find common ground on that principle … we won’t succeed.”

    His words surprised some because of an impression that the US was unwilling to talk about these issues. However, by initiating such a discussion Washington is able effectively to call Beijing’s bluff – because as China is the world’s biggest emitter, and set to be the world’s biggest economy within a few years, it may be expected to take on a greater share of emissions cuts.

  • Doha: Climate change deal limping towards ‘disappointing’ conclusion

    A global climate change deal was limping towards another ‘disappointing’ conclusion last night, scientists warned, after countries failed to agree on cutting carbon emissions.

    The Guardian, By Louise Gray, December 7

    The latest round of United Nations talks in Doha, Qatar have seen ongoing fights between the developed world and poorer nations on how to stop catastrophic climate change.

    As the talks went into the night, scientists warned that the current deal on the table is simply not strong enough.

    Prof Sir Brian Hoskins, Director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, said the world is looking at global warming above 2C.

    “It is vitally important to remember that the dangerous experiment we are performing on the climate system through our emissions of greenhouse gases continues unabated, with global emissions still growing at an alarming pace,” he said.

    “The climate system will not wait decades for the governments of the world to inch towards an agreement. This trend needs to be reversed quickly. The outcome of the Doha talks is therefore extremely disappointing, if not unexpected.”


    Negotiations towards a global deal by 2015, that would commit all countries to cutting carbon from 2020, also made little progress.

    • UN climate talks in Qatar go into overtime

      Rich and poor nations disagree on funding as negotiators scramble to reach a global agreement on rising CO2 emissions.

      Al Jazeera, December 8

      UN climate talks in Doha have been extended as delegates from rich and poor nations disagree on funding.

      Talks scheduled to end on Friday spilled into the early hours of Saturday, as negotiators scrambled to find consensus on an interim plan to rein in climate change and smooth the way to a new deal that must enter into force in 2020.

      With no signs of progress, a sign went up in the conference media centre around 4am (01:00 GMT) to announce that a “presentation of outcomes and next steps towards closure” would be made at 7.30am.

      “They are still talking,” Al Jazeera’s Nick Clark, reporting from the conference, said. “No deal has been made over 13 days. The issues are finance; the United States and the bigger states don’t want to make concessions for poorer states.”

  • Climate talks: UN forum extends Kyoto Protocol to 2020

    BBC, By Roger Harrabin, December 8

    Doha – UN climate talks in Doha have closed with a historic shift in principle but few genuine cuts in greenhouse gases.

    As it agreed to extend the Kyoto Protocol, the summit established for the first time that rich nations should move towards compensating poor nations for losses due to climate change.

    This was hailed as a breakthrough by developing nations.

    But they condemned the gulf between the science of climate change and political attempts to tackle it.

    The deal, agreed by nearly 200 nations, keeps the protocol alive as the only legally binding plan for combating global warming.

    However, it only covers developed nations whose share of world greenhouse gas emissions is less than 15%.

    The final text “encourages” rich nations to mobilise at least $10bn a year between 2015 and 2020, when the new global climate agreement is due to kick in.


    The big players, the US, EU and China accepted the agreement with varying degrees of reservation. But the representative for the small island states at severe risk from climate change was vociferous.

    “We see the package before us as deeply deficient in mitigation (carbon cuts) and finance. It’s likely to lock us on the trajectory to a 3,4,5C rise in global temperatures, even though we agreed to keep the global average temperature rise of 1.5C to ensure survival of all islands,” he said.


    Until now rich nations have agreed finance to help developing countries to get clean energy and adapt to climate change, but they have stopped short of accepting responsibility for damage caused by climate change elsewhere.

    But in Doha that broad principle was agreed.


    The talks were chaired by Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah, a former head of the oil cartel Opec. He was widely criticised for his laid-back style earlier in the week but at the last there was the unlikely spectacle of environmentalists cheering the ruthlessness of the chair in crushing the Russian revolt.

    Factbox: What Do the Doha Talks Mean for the Carbon Market?

    Reuters, December 8

    Doha – U.N. climate talks in Doha, Qatar, were unlikely to have any impact on depressed carbon markets, analysts said.

    Extended debate gave the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s only global pact on curbing climate change, a fragile lifeline.

    But it did nothing to raise ambition on cutting emissions, which could have helped to reduce a surplus of offsets and emissions allowances that have crushed markets.

    Factbox: Key Decisions at Doha Talks on Climate Change

    Reuters, by Andrew Allan, Ben Garside, Daniel Fineren & Stian Reklev, December 8

    Doha – Following are major decisions by almost 200 nations at U.N. meeting on climate change in Doha, Qatar, November 26 to December 7:

    Kyoto Protocol

    The conference agreed to an eight-year extension to 2020 of the Kyoto Protocol, the only legally binding U.N. pact for combating global warming.

    It now obliges about 35 industrialized countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions by an average of at least 5.2 percent below 1990 levels during the period 2008-12. Nations will pick their own targets for 2020.

    But backers of Kyoto will dwindle from 2013 to a group including the European Union, Australia, Ukraine, Switzerland and Norway. Together they account for less than 15 percent of world greenhouse gas emissions.

    Others of the original Kyoto group — Russia, Japan and Canada — are pulling out, saying that it is time for big emerging economies led by China and India to join in setting targets for limiting their surging emissions.


    Countries laid out a timetable for working on a new global deal, due to be agreed in 2015 and to enter into force from 2020 that would apply to all nations. Kyoto now only sets targets for industrialized nations.


    The talks are named the “Durban Platform” after the South African city that hosted talks last year where the new push for a global deal from 2020 was decided.


    The conference stopped short of obliging developed nations, facing austerity at home, to give a timetable about how they would achieve a promised tenfold increase in aid to $100 billion a year by 2020.

    Climate Talks Yield Commitment to Ambitious, but Unclear, Actions

    New York Times, By John M. Broder, December 8

    Doha, Qatar — The annual United Nations climate change negotiations concluded here late Saturday after the customary all-night negotiating session and recriminations over who must bear the costs and burdens of a warming planet.

    Delegates from more than 190 nations agreed to extend the increasingly ineffective Kyoto Protocol a few years and to commit to more ambitious — but unspecified — actions to reduce emissions of climate-altering gases.

    Wealthy nations put off for a year resolution of the dispute over providing billions of dollars in aid to countries most heavily affected by climate change. Industrial nations have pledged to secure $100 billion a year by 2020 in public and private financing to help poor countries cope with climate change, but have been vague about what they plan to do before then.


    “This is not where we wanted to be at the end of the meeting, I assure you,” he told the delegates. “It certainly isn’t where we need to be in order to prevent islands from going under and other unimaginable impacts. It has become abundantly clear that unless the work is supported by world leaders, particularly those representing the countries most responsible for the crisis, we will continue to fall short year after year.”

    Ignoring Planetary Peril, a Profound ‘Disconnect’ Between Science and Doha

    New York Times / IHT, Christopher F. Schuetze, December 9

    In one of the most poignant moments of the Doha climate talks, the Philippine climate change commissioner, Naderev M. Sano, appealed to his fellow negotiators at a session deciding the contours of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

    “Please let Doha be remembered as the place where we found the political will to turn things around,” he said as he choked back tears.

    Just days before, Typhoon Bopha had hit the Philippines, killing hundreds of people. The typhoon, having been both unusually forceful and out of season, was deemed — like Hurricane Sandy — to be an extreme weather event, exacerbated by climate change.

    You can see Mr. Sano addressing the plenary of the working group dedicated to the increasingly ineffective Kyoto agreement above and here.

    Despite the pleas of the Philippine commissioner and those of many others, the Doha summit was almost politics as usual. It did take 24 hours of overtime, but the Doha Climate Gateway was finally approved Saturday. The agreement extends the Kyoto Protocol until 2020, when a more global emissions reduction agreement is to take effect.

    “The Doha package represents a modest but important step forward,” said Connie Hedegaard, the European commissioner for climate action, according to news reports.

    Though the new, tougher and more inclusive treaty will be under negotiation until 2015, environmentalists warn that any deal that goes into effect in 2020 comes too late.

  • There Is No Stopping Climate Change Unless We Can Mobilize Against Plutocracy

    Neoliberalism is not the root of the problem: it is the ideology used to justify a global grab of power, public assets and natural resources by an unrestrained elite.

    Alternet/, By George Monbiot, December 4

    Humankind’s greatest crisis coincides with the rise of an ideology that makes it impossible to address. By the late 1980s, when it became clear that manmade climate change endangered the living planet and its people, the world was in the grip of an extreme political doctrine, whose tenets forbid the kind of intervention required to arrest it.

    Neoliberalism, also known as market fundamentalism or laissez-faire economics, purports to liberate the market from political interference. The state, it asserts, should do little but defend the realm, protect private property and remove barriers to business. In practice it looks nothing like this. What neoliberal theorists call shrinking the state looks more like shrinking democracy: reducing the means by which citizens can restrain the power of the elite. What they call “the market” looks more like the interests of corporations and the ultra-rich(1). Neoliberalism appears to be little more than a justification for plutocracy.


    Preventing climate breakdown – the four, five or six degrees of warming now predicted for this century by green extremists like, er, the World Bank, the International Energy Agency and PriceWaterhouseCoopers( 4,5,6) – means confronting the oil, gas and coal industry. It means forcing that industry to abandon the four-fifths or more of fossil fuel reserves that we cannot afford to burn( 7). It means cancelling the prospecting and development of new reserves – what’s the point if we can’t use current stocks? – and reversing the expansion of any infrastructure (such as airports) that cannot be run without them.

    But the self-hating state cannot act. Captured by interests that democracy is supposed to restrain, it can only sit on the road, ears pricked and whiskers twitching, as the truck thunders towards it. Confrontation is forbidden, action is a mortal sin. You may, perhaps, disperse some money for new energy; you may not legislate against the old.

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