A UN climate meeting in an oil state — hope on the horizon

It’s opening day of this year’s UN Climate Talks in Doha, Qatar. Technically known as the 18th Conference of Parties (COP18) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the meetings are the annual acroynm heavy negotiations dedicated to saving our planet.

Sadly, it seems that our politicians still aren’t up to the task. Expectations for concrete progress in Doha are low and the irony of hosting the climate talks in an oil state like Qatar isn’t lost on anyone (the deputy prime minister speaking at a recent “Oil and Money” Conference to celebrate fossil fuels didn’t help the perception). At 350.org, we’re most excited about the work that is happening outside of the negotiating halls.

Young people are at the forefront of that work, particularly the 12-weeks-old Arab Youth Climate Movement. Youth here in Doha just wrapped an inspiring 8th Conference of Youth, a chance for young leaders from around the world to meet, discuss plans, and strategize together. This morning, young people welcomed delegations to COP18 with a reminder to connect the dots between the extreme weather and climate impacts with the larger climate crisis.

You can support the Arab Youth Climate Network by signing their petition calling for action from Qatar and all Arab countries here: 

http://350.org/arableadership

It’s inspiring stuff to see youth from around the world standing shoulder to shoulder to call for climate action, but if we’re going to have any chance of overcoming the power of the fossil fuel industry and force our governments to act, we’re going to need to scale up our movement dramatically. 

That’s why at 350.org we’re excited to have just announced Global Power Shift, a campaign to train, network, and empower the next generation of climate leaders around the world. The effort kicks off with a global summit in Istanbul this June. The application deadline is this December 16, 2012. If you’re a young climate leader, make sure to apply soon!
 
While there’s little chance at a concrete agreement coming out of Doha, there are a number of important things that negotiators need to make progress on: 

 

First, negotiators need to lay out a clear work plan to achieve an international framework that will peak emissions by 2015, what scientists say is necessary to keep warming below the 2 degrees C limit that nearly every country on earth has signed on to (and ideally, limit warming to the 1.5C, a  necessary step to protect island nations and other “most vulnerable” areas and nations).  

Second, we need to see some more money on the table. In Copenhagen, world leaders promised that the UN Green Climate Fund would eventually deliver up to $100 billion in climate finance, but so far, very little money has been put on the table. It’s high time that negotiators put their money where their mouths are. 

Third, we want to see a clear and productive conversation about equity here at these talks. In the end, there is nothing fair about climate change: the poor, who have done nothing to cause the crisis, will bear the brunt of the impacts. Rich countries need to step up to the plate with real commitments to reduce their emissions, as well as explain how they will support sustainable development around the world.

Finally, it’s time to bring the fossil fuel industry into the equation. Each year, our governments hand over billions of dollars in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. At the Rio Earth Summit last June, 350.org worked with partners around the world to put cutting subsidies firmly on the agenda. Our “Twitter Storm” made #EndFossilFuelSubsidies one of the most tweeted hashtags in the world, and certainly the largest online topic connected to the negotiations. It’s good to see important negotiators like the EU Commisioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard tweeting about subsidies in Doha — now, it’s time to take those proposals offline and put them into the actual text. 

On we go!
 
  • HAPPENING NOW: “Years of Living Dangerously” watch-parties and web-chat. More at 350.org/years

350 Global Map

Check out local groups around the world on the 350 global map!
Launch the Map