COP18—Doha Climate Conference

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  • by Anup Shah
  • This Page Created Sunday, December 02, 2012

This web page has the following sub-sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. Media coverage
  3. More information
    1. News stories from IPS

Introduction

November 26 – December 7, 2012, Doha, Qatar is the venue for the 18th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as the 18th Conference of the Parties — or COP 18.

Predictably and sadly, the same issues complained about at previous annual meetings for the past decade continue to recycle themselves:

  • Lack of quality (if any) media coverage
  • West stalling on doing anything
  • Lack of funding
  • Disagreement on how to address it
  • etc.

As the past two decades have shown trying to get global agreement on tackling climate change seems to be futile. By comparison, more focused and limited interest of elites, however, are easier to push through, such as wars based on geopolitical threats (real and imaginary), or economic crises (where banks and other elites most responsible for the crises are bailed out by ordinary citizens).

Furthermore, as the West has generally shown in the past decade or more (even when their economies were doing good) paying now for something that seems to be a problem in the future is hard to accept. It is easier, therefore, to stall and keep blaming China, India and other emerging nations despite the historical inequality of those emissions. But ignoring that makes it easier to hope these emerging nations will pick up the burden of addressing emissions rises.

A summary from the Malaysian-based development organization, Third World Network, notes that once again there are disagreements on how to proceed with basic aspects of these climate discussions such as how to agree on the next round of emission reductions:

Developing countries want the Doha talks to produce increased ambition in emission reductions for the second commitment period (CP2) while developed countries seem set to maintain their currently weak targets, with uncertainty over the future review of those targets.

Developing countries are also insisting that the [new reduction targets] be established in a ratifiable legally binding amendment of [the Kyoto Protocol], that contains the quantified emission limitation or reduction objectives (QELROs) of each developed country Party.

Many developing countries also want a legal provision for provisional application of the QELROs from 1 January 2013 that developed countries do not support.

According to several developing country delegates, without provisional application on a legal basis, the reduction commitments would be rendered voluntary.

Chee Yoke Ling, Kyoto Protocol second commitment period still mired in differences PDF formatted document, Third World Network, November 28, 2012

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Media coverage

Generally speaking, media coverage of climate change issues and these conferences has been a mixed bag over the past decade. More recent years has seen increased interest and coverage (though many important issues are glossed over in mainstream media sound-byte style reporting).

When I wrote a similar page about a year ago regarding the previous conference, COP 17, I noted that (as with many previous conferences), I described mainstream media coverage as “pathetic” and almost non-existent until the very last few moments.

I added that in reality money speaks and so short term and elite/establishment views tend to prevail, which is why governments can so quickly get the “99%” to bail out the banks and the top 1% with many trillions of dollars, while finding billions for fighting even more devastating climate change has taken almost 2 decades so far without any convincing results.

It seems like that will be the case again this year. As of writing, it is half way through the conference and scanning mainstream media headlines in the UK, I see no coverage of the conference (at least not as major news headlines). It is very possible I have missed it, but one would hope that a conference of such importance would not require much detailed look at mainstream media news headlines to find coverage of it.

Indeed, this comes at a time when the British press is facing threats of regulation following scandals about journalist practices by some tabloid papers. Ironically, the British press now fears regulation will hinder their free speech (a legitimate worry). But what free speech are they fighting for? For more narrow coverage and tabloid headlines?

It is worth quoting again an article from Media Lens about a year ago on the poor media quality coverage in recent years.

Media interest in the subject has crashed. Dr. Robert J. Brulle of Drexel University describes a “collapse of any significant coverage of climate change in the [US] media. We know that 2010 was a record low year, and 2011 will probably look much the same. If the media doesn’t draw attention to the issue, public opinion will decline.”

Equally disturbing is the variation in media performance across the globe. A wide-ranging Reuters study on the prevalence of climate skepticism in the world’s media — Poles Apart — The international reporting of climate skepticism - focused on newspapers in Brazil, China, France, India, the UK and the USA. The periods studied were February to April 2007 and mid-November 2009 to mid-February 2010 (a period that included the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen and “Climategate”). Remarkably, the study concluded that climate skepticism is “predominantly an Anglo-Saxon phenomenon”, found most frequently in US and British newspapers.

And so we find that Britain and the US — the two countries responding most aggressively to alleged “threats” to human security in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya — are also the two countries least interested in responding to the very real threat of climate change.

Climate Crisis – The Collapse In Corporate Media Coverage , Media Lens, December 1, 2011

It would be worth reading the media section of the previous conference to see more about media coverage.

President Obama was recently re-elected as President of the United States. It is not clear how much impact the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy had on climate change policies (and it may also be too early to tell), but many certainly felt that in the days leading up to the election it may have been a factor. Perhaps, importantly, for the first time, climate denial may become a political liability in the US, and it remains to be seen how much the Republicans will hamper Obama’s climate policies.

The more extreme news organization in the US, Fox News, was found to to have 93% of their climate reporting as misleading. And this channel is a prime channel for Republican leaning viewers. This is also despite promises by Murdoch many years ago to improve climate change reporting. But it is not just Fox News, although not media outlets themselves many other influential corporations have been actively supporting misrepresentation of the science around climate change, undermining the US public’s understanding of scientific consensus around climate change.

Numerous recent reports are finding that climate scientists, far from being alarmist and scaremongering, have somewhat underestimated the speed at which climate change impacts such as extreme weather and rising sea levels will happen and that many conditions match their upper estimates rather than any median or better-scenario estimates.

For example, the conference comes at the end of a year that saw record Arctic sea ice melting, multiple global weather and climate extremes, and high temperatures.

For years countries have worried that funding for adaptation and mitigation is not affordable (rich and poor nations alike) and yet, as time goes on, adaptation and mitigation costs will be even higher.

Even the World Bank has chimed in noting that

Coal, oil and gas companies and their backers in the financial and investment industry must stop putting billions of dollars into finding and extracting new sources of fossil fuels. If they don't shift their investments, temperatures will soar four to 10 degrees C higher, devastating many parts of the world, the World Bank said Monday.

Stephen Leahy, Planet on Path to Four C Warming, World Bank Warns, Inter Press Service, November 19, 2012

Despite years of this, things do not seem to change much. Perhaps it is because there isn’t an emotional attachment to the issue; it is distant, vague, complex. However, as David Robert notes,

Climate change is not only the economic and ecological crisis of our time, it’s also a moral crisis. What we are doing to our descendants is a moral crime. Finding ways to help people get that, feel it in their guts the way they would if someone threatened their own families, is a precondition for serious, sustained action.

David Roberts, Why climate change doesn’t spark moral outrage, and how it could, Grist, July 27, 2012

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More information

As the conference is still underway as this page is written, more information will be added here after the event is over.

For more about the issues from other organizations, here are some starting points:

News stories from IPS

Below is a list of stories from Inter Press Service related to the Durban climate conference and its aftermath.

OP-ED: Climate Change May Affect Your Travel Plans – and Those of Millions of Animals

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

SAN JOSÉ, Apr 09 (IPS) - There are few experiences more frustrating than a delay in travel plans caused by bad weather. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), this may be something we will have to get used to in the future.

Rural Costa Rican Women Plant Trees to Fight Climate Change

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

PITAL, Costa Rica, Apr 02 (IPS) - Olga Vargas, a breast cancer survivor, is back in the countryside, working in a forestry programme in the north of Costa Rica aimed at empowering women while at the same time mitigating the effects of climate change.

Indoor Mini-Farms to Beat Climate Change

Thursday, February 27, 2014

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Feb 27 (IPS) - Industrial engineer Ancel Bhagwandeen thinks that growing your food indoors is a great way to protect crops from the stresses of climate change. So he developed a hydroponic system that "leverages the nanoclimates in houses so that the house effectively protects the produce the same way it protects us," he says.

Kenya’s Excess of Policies Can’t Deal With Climate Change

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

NAIROBI, Dic 31 (IPS) - Kenyais facing its greatest challenge as weather patterns are starting to significantly affect food production. And experts are blaming the low adaptive capacity of the farming sector on an excess of policy and institutional frameworks that are silent on both climate change and agriculture.

Developing Countries Still Waiting for a Global Response to Climate Change

Thursday, December 12, 2013

BRUSSELS, Dic 12 (IPS) - As president of the Council of Ministers of the African, Caribbean and Pacific states, Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi had the perfect forum to voice his concerns about the effects climate change has had on his island nation.

Preserving Life in Cuba for When the Climate Changes

Thursday, December 05, 2013

HAVANA, Dic 05 (IPS) - Nature reserves act as a safe deposit box for biodiversity and contribute to adaptation to climate change. But in a country like Cuba, plagued by a chronic economic crisis, efforts to increase the number of protected areas go largely unnoticed.

Climate Change Report “Gives No Reason for Optimism”

Saturday, September 28, 2013

RIO DE JANEIRO, Sep 28 (IPS) - Amidst rumours that global warming has slowed over the past 15 years, the new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that each of the last three decades has been warmer than any preceding decade since 1850.

Climate Change Threatens Crop Yields in Brazil

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

RIO DE JANEIRO, Sep 17 (IPS) - Crop yields in Brazil, an agricultural powerhouse, are set to decline as a result of climate change, according to the most complete diagnosis yet of climate trends in this country.

U.S. Task Force Urges Climate Change Preparations

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

WASHINGTON, Aug 20 (IPS) - The United States government is recommending new preparations aimed at protecting vulnerable communities from climate change-related disasters, a year after a major hurricane devastated swaths of the country's East Coast.

Climate Change Teaches Some Lessons

Monday, July 29, 2013

PORT LOUIS, Jul 29 (IPS) - Tourism, agriculture, fishing, the water supply – climate change threatens the very foundations of society and the economy in Mauritius. As the Indian Ocean island nation develops its adaptation strategies, it is working to ground the next generation of citizens firmly in principles of sustainable development.

Mexico’s Cities Not Ready for Climate Change

Friday, July 12, 2013

PROGRESO, Mexico, Jul 12 (IPS) - Towns on Mexico's Caribbean coast are behind schedule on the design and implementation of plans to face the challenges of climate change, in spite of the urgency of measures to reduce vulnerability.

Obama Unveils Plan to Circumvent Congress on Climate Change

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

WASHINGTON, Jun 25 (IPS) - Stymied by the U.S. Congress, President Barack Obama on Tuesday unveiled his vision to reset the United States' incoherent national plan to combat climate change, offering dozens of regulatory tweaks and targets that his administration could now implement without Congressional approval.

Global Publics See Climate Change, Financial Issues As Top Threats

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

WASHINGTON, Jun 25 (IPS) - Climate change and international financial instability top a list of seven concerns that publics around the world consider "major threats" to their countries, according to the latest polling of global attitudes by the Pew Research Centre here.

Caribbean Looks at Financial Approach to Combat Climate Change

Saturday, June 15, 2013

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Jun 15 (IPS) - The Caribbean has the unenviable reputation as one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world, a situation exacerbated by climate change and vulnerability that experts warn could have significant economic consequences if unaddressed.

Caribbean Scientist Warns of Climate Change Disaster

Sunday, May 19, 2013

CHARLESTOWN, Nevis, May 19 (IPS) - The Caribbean does not have the luxury of time for decisive action on climate change and global warming. In fact, it is on the brink of calamity, according to a prominent scientist.

Climate Change Is Happening… So What?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

NEW YORK, May 16 (IPS) - Seven in 10 U.S. citizens believe climate change is real and happening now. Yet most have never even contacted a government official about the issue, let alone volunteered with an environmental organisation or taken other action.

Climate Change Adaptation: A Race Against Time

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

DHAKA, May 07 (IPS) - Adaptation and mitigation. Identified by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and by scientists as the two major responses to address the problem, these were also the twin preoccupations of a climate change conference held recently in Dhaka.

Climate Change Makes Life Tougher for Solomon Island Farmers

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

HONIARA, Solomon Islands, May 07 (IPS) - Life is difficult enough for communities on the remote southern Weather Coast of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.  Sustaining a livelihood from the land is a daily struggle on the steep coastal mountain slopes that plunge to the sea, made worse by the absence of adequate roads, transport and government services. And now, climate change is taking its toll on the already precarious food situation here.

Mauritians Unprepared for Effects of Climate Change

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

PORT-LOUIS, Apr 16 (IPS) - Mauritius may be one of the best-prepared countries in the world when it comes to cyclones, but recent heavy rains and flooding due to climate change have brought the country's readiness for coping with increased rainfall into question. 

Climate Change Drives Spread of Invasive Plants in Cuba

Thursday, April 11, 2013

HAVANA, Apr 11 (IPS) - Botanist Ramona Oviedo has spent decades combing the countryside in Cuba to study and curb the spread of invasive plant species, a serious problem that has been aggravated by climate change.

Winter Athletes Call for Action on Climate Change

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

WASHINGTON, Apr 10 (IPS) - After another winter of erratic and disappointing snowfall, 75 of the U.S.'s top professional winter athletes are calling on President Barack Obama to take stronger measures to curb climate change.

Climate Change Now Seen as Security Threat Worldwide

Friday, March 22, 2013

WASHINGTON, Mar 22 (IPS) - Defence establishments around the world increasingly see climate change as posing potentially serious threats to national and international security, according to a review of high-level statements by the world's governments released here Thursday.

U.S. Security Establishment Increasingly Worried about Climate Change

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

WASHINGTON, Feb 27 (IPS) - More than three dozen national security officials, members of Congress and military leaders are warning of the threat climate change poses to U.S. national security, the latest in an indicator that U.S. intelligence and national security circles are increasingly worried about a warming planet.

Q&A: Climate Change Front and Centre in Cuban Development Model

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

HAVANA, Feb 27 (IPS) - Each of Cuba's 168 municipalities faces the challenge of designing its own strategic development which, as well as economic and social progress, minimises the impact of extreme weather and other problems caused by global warming.

Killer Heat Waves and Floods Linked to Climate Change

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Feb 27 (IPS) - Killer heat waves, floods and storms are increasingly caused by climate change, new research reveals.

Climate Change Added to U.S. Government “High Risk” List

Friday, February 15, 2013

WASHINGTON, Feb 15 (IPS) - For the first time, a U.S. government auditor has added climate change to a list of issues that pose the greatest financial risk to the government and country. It is also warning that Washington is markedly unprepared to deal with the scope of the problem.

Climate Change Threatens Caribbean Coral Reefs

Thursday, February 14, 2013

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Feb 14 (IPS) - Scientists and researchers are working together in a new initiative to collect data that will help determine the effects of climate change on coral in the Caribbean Sea.

Controversy Brews Over Climate Change Adaptation Project

Friday, January 25, 2013

CARTAGENA DE INDIAS, Colombia, Jan 25 (IPS) - An ambitious programme of infrastructure works to overcome the risks of climate change in Cartagena de Indias, a city on the Caribbean coast in northern Colombia, has generated controversy, with authorities predicting benefits while parts of the affected population voice criticisms.

National Legislation Key to Combating Climate Change

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Jan 16 (IPS) - A majority of major economies have made significant progress in addressing climate change, with countries like South Korea and China taking aggressive action so they can benefit from energy- and resource-efficient economies, a new report released Monday found.

International Aid Helps Cuba Adapt to Climate Change

Friday, December 28, 2012

HAVANA, Dic 28 (IPS) - "Adaptation to climate change is urgent and must be part of development," said Bárbara Pesce-Monteiro, the United Nations resident coordinator in Cuba, assessing the damage done by hurricane Sandy in the eastern region of the country.

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Author and Page Information

  • by Anup Shah
  • Created: Sunday, December 02, 2012

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