COP18—Doha Climate Conference

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  • by Anup Shah
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On this page:

  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 , 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.

  1. Climate change heightens threats of violence against women and girls

    - UN News

    Climate change and environmental degradation are escalating the risk and prevalence of violence against women and girls across the world, a UN-appointed independent human rights expert warned on Wednesday.

  2. Climate Change Crisis Nonacceptance

    - Inter Press Service

    PORTLAND, USA, Sep 19 (IPS) - Many people around the world, especially those among the political far-right, do not accept the climate change crisis. Over the years their thinking, behavior, and policies dismissing climate change have largely continued and impaired global efforts to address global warming and environmental degradation.

  3. Climate Change Conclusion: Time for Bold Action

    - Inter Press Service

    PORTLAND, USA, Aug 10 (IPS) - With climate change bringing about increasing numbers of human deaths and untold sufferingand rising economic, social, and environmental consequences worldwide, it’s time for governments to take bold action to address the climate change emergency.

  4. Climate Change is Putting Women & Girls in Malawi at Greater Risk of Sexual Violence

    - Inter Press Service

    LONDON, Aug 01 (IPS) - It is often those least responsible for causing climate change that suffer the most from the impacts. And such is the case with women and girls in Malawi - one of the world’s poorest and lowest carbon-emitting countries but ranked fifth in the Global Climate Index 2021 list of nations worst affected by climate-related extreme weather.

  5. US Supreme Court ruling on environmental protection ‘a setback in our fight against climate change’

    - UN News

    The ruling by the United States Supreme Court against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday, is “a setback in our fight against climate change” said the UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.

  6. Climate Hypocrisy Ensures Global Warming

    - Inter Press Service

    SYDNEY and KUALA LUMPUR, Jun 28 (IPS) - Rich country governments claim the high moral ground on climate action. But many deny their far greater responsibility for both historic and contemporary greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, once acknowledged by the Kyoto Protocol.

  7. Who Should Be the Next UN Climate Change Head?

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW YORK, Jun 20 (IPS) - Patricia Espinosa’s six years as Executive Secretary of the UN’s climate change secretariat ends on July 15th. During her time in charge, she has led efforts to operationalize the 2015 Paris Agreement and inject greater urgency into the diplomatic process. Although progress has been difficult, COP26 in Glasgow added some momentum and arguably brought the UN process to the start of its next stage: implementation.

  8. Farmers in Senegal Adopt Farming as a Business to Beat Climate Change

    - Inter Press Service

    BULAWAYO, Jun 10 (IPS) - Onions and rice are a conspicuous part of every meal in Senegal, including the famous Poulet Yassa. However, climate change makes it hard for smallholder farmers to grow enough staple food with extra to sell for income.

  9. ‘We can do better, we must’ declares departing UN climate change chief, as COP27 looms over horizon

    - UN News

    The annual UN Climate Change Conference in the German city of Bonn began on Monday, designed to lay the groundwork for a successful COP27, due to take place in the Egyptian coastal resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh, in November.

  10. Climate Change in South East Asia: Where are we and What are we Bound for?

    - Inter Press Service

    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Jun 02 (IPS) - It is increasingly clear that human health and wellbeing are being threatened everywhere because of global warming and environmental damage. Extreme weather events, sea level rise, increasing scarcity of freshwater, drought and high temperatures, combined with loss of biodiversity and other aspects of ecological degradation such as soil erosion and coral bleaching are all features of anthropogenic self-harm and an increasingly inhospitable planet for human society.

  11. Climate change threatening access to water and sanitation

    - UN News

    Climate change is set to increase pressure significantly on people’s access to water and sanitation unless governments do more to prepare key infrastructure now, the UN warned on Friday.   

  12. Small solutions, big impacts: 5 community-level projects tackling climate change

    - UN News

    There are thousands of small-scale, community driven initiatives making a huge difference in people’s lives and contributing to efforts to curb global warming.

  13. International Day for Monuments and Sites spotlights climate change

    - UN News

    One in three natural sites and one in six cultural heritage sites are currently threatened by climate change, the UN cultural agency, UNESCO, warned on Monday, the  International Day for Monuments and Sites.

  14. Sport and climate change: Paralympic champion Tatyana Mcfadden explains the link

    - UN News

    Ahead of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, we spoke with the best female wheelchair racer of all time. She is now raising her voice for climate action, and she explained why global warming threatens everyone, especially persons with disabilities, and how sport can contribute to protecting our planet.

  15. The Climate Change Shuffle: Deny, Delay, and Do Nothing

    - Inter Press Service

    PORTLAND, USA, Mar 07 (IPS) - While more than a half century ago the Twist was the craze in dance halls globally, today the Climate Change Shuffle is the craze in government halls and conference sites worldwide as officials dance around the dangers of climate change.

  16. Adapting to climate change ‘happening worldwide’, essential

    - UN News

    The impacts of climate change are already “very visible” and “happening worldwide”, the head of the UN weather agency told the start of the 55th Session of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which convened on Monday.

  17. Climate Change: Adapt for the Future, Not the Past

    - Inter Press Service

    A story from Inter Press Service, an international news agency

    SYDNEY and KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 07 (IPS) - Funding for developing countries to address global warming is grossly inadequate. Very little finance is for adaptation to climate change, the urgent need of countries most adversely affected. Also, adaptation needs to be forward-looking rather than only addressing accumulated problems.

  18. Climate Change with 8 Billion Humans

    - Inter Press Service

    PORTLAND, USA, Nov 23 (IPS) - With world population approaching 8 billion humans, the demographic growth of nations is unfortunately largely ignored by governments whenever climate change is considered.

  19. Violence, insecurity and climate change drive 84 million people from their homes

    - UN News

    As more people flee violence, insecurity and the effects of climate change, the number forcibly displaced now exceeds 84 million globally, according to new data released on Thursday by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.  

  20. Climate change increasing threats in southwest Pacific: WMO report

    - UN News

    From rising sea temperatures, to deadly and devastating storms and floods, climate change is increasing threats in the southwest Pacific, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in a report published on Wednesday. 

  21. COP26: Avoiding Carbon Tunnel Vision: Action on Climate Change Needs an Inter-connected Response

    - Inter Press Service

    AMSTERDAM, the Netherlands, Nov 10 (IPS) - With the UN climate change conference – COP26 – continuing this week in Glasgow, it’s obvious that there is consensus among a majority of world leaders and key stakeholders that much more needs to be done, if the ambition of keeping global warming to a 1.5-degree increase is to have any chance of being met. Yet talk, as they say, is cheap. Or, in the words of Greta: too much “blah, blah, blah” and not enough action.

  22. Magical Thinking on Fertilizer and Climate Change

    - Inter Press Service

    CAMBRIDGE, Nov 09 (IPS) - As world leaders wrap up the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow, new scientific research shows that there is still a great deal of magical thinking about the contribution of fertilizer to global warming.

  23. An Ambitious, Stakeholder-Driven Climate Change Commitment Ahead of COP26: Eswatini’s Revised Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) Process

    - Inter Press Service

    Eswatini, Oct 22 (IPS) - There is no country today that has not experienced the effects of climate change, from changing weather patterns to extreme, devastating weather events.

  24. Madagascar: Severe drought could spur world’s first climate change famine

    - UN News

    More than one million people in southern Madagascar are struggling to get enough to eat, due to what could become the first famine caused by climate change, according to the World Food Programme (WFP). 

  25. Climate Change: How 1.3 Billion Africans Cause Least But Suffer Most

    - Inter Press Service

    MADRID, Oct 20 (IPS) - While Africa reportedly causes just 4 percent of global emissions of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) —an acidic colourless gas with a density about 53% higher than that of dry air, causing climate change—, this vast continent, home to over 1.300 billion inhabitants in 52 countries, bears the heaviest brunt of 80 percent of the climate crisis destructive impacts.

  26. Fossil fuel production ‘dangerously out of sync’ with climate change targets

    - UN News

    Despite increased climate ambition and net-zero commitments, governments still plan to produce more than double the amount of energy from fossil fuels in 2030, than the amount that would limit global warming to the Paris Agreement level of 1.5°C. 

  27. UN-backed report reveals rising climate change risk across Africa

    - UN News

    Climate change contributed to mounting food insecurity, poverty and displacement in Africa last year, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and partners said in a report published on Tuesday. 

  28. World Food Day: Climate Change is Exacerbating Hunger & Conflict—it’s Time to Break the Cycle

    - Inter Press Service

    STOCKHOLM, Oct 13 (IPS) - Hunger, violent conflict and the visible impacts of climate change are all on the rise. World Food Day, October 16, is a reminder that we need to talk about the intricate ways that these challenges are connected—and how to tackle them together.

  29. Mangrove Blue Carbon for Climate Change Mitigation

    - Inter Press Service

    NAIROBI, Oct 07 (IPS) - Smelly, boggy, and full of bugs, mangroves’ superpowers are well hidden. However, there is rising confidence that mangroves are the silver bullet to combat the effects of climate change.

  30. Extreme Weather the New Normal if Global Warming Increases at Current Speed

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Sep 28 (IPS) - Rondrotiana Barimalala is a climate researcher at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and a lead author for the IPCC report to the recently released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report titled Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis.

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  • by Anup Shah
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