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. In a Watershed Year for Climate Change, the Commonwealth Secretary-General calls for Urgent, Decisive and Sustained Climate Action

    - Inter Press Service

    London, Sep 08 (IPS) - This November, five years after signing the Paris Agreement and pledging to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with a further target of below 1.5 degrees Celsius, world leaders will meet in Glasgow, UK amid COVID-19 pandemic shocks, rising hunger and an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that warns of more extreme temperature, droughts, forest fires and ice sheet loss due to human activity.

  2. Drop coal or climate change will ‘wreak havoc’ across Australian economy

    - UN News

    Climate change will “wreak havoc” across the Australian economy if coal is not rapidly phased out, a senior UN official warned on Monday. 

  3. Digital Tech can Help African Island States Cope with Climate Change

    - Inter Press Service

    BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, Aug 27 (IPS) - Investing in digital technologies can help African small island developing states (SIDS), vulnerable to extreme weather events, cope with growing impacts of climate change, says the United Nations (UN) Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

  4. A Transformational Approach to Climate Change

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW YORK, Aug 10 (IPS) - The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its starkest report yetexpressing a clear consensus on the rapid changes to global temperatures.

  5. A Code Red Warning on the Hazards of Climate Change & an Impending Global Disaster

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Aug 09 (IPS) - A landmark report on the hazards of climate change predicts a devastating future for the world at large.

    Authored by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and released August 9, the study is being described by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as “code red for humanity”— a rallying cry before an impending global disaster.

  6. Global warming ‘unequivocally’ human driven, at unprecedented rate: IPCC

    - UN News

    Climate change is widespread, rapid, and intensifying, and some trends are now irreversible, at least during the present time frame, according to the latest much-anticipated Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, released on Monday.

  7. At the UN, Climate Change & Security Must Be Tackled Together

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW YORK, Jul 13 (IPS) - Could the next wars be triggered by climate change?

    Until recently, the question might have seemed like science fiction, but now it is very real. Ethiopia and Egypt are locked in an upward spiral of tensions over the Nile, as a combination of dams and shifting weather patterns pose existential risks to both countries.

  8. Conflict, climate change, COVID, forces more people into hunger

    - UN News

    Global hunger levels have skyrocketed because of conflict, climate change and the economic impact of COVID-19; and one in five children around the world is stunted, UN agencies warned on Monday. 

  9. Climate Change: Your Choices Matter

    - Inter Press Service

    A story from Inter Press Service, an international news agency

    TORONTO, Canada, Jun 29 (IPS) - Life is a series of choices. And choices have consequences. When it comes to climate change, some choices have bigger consequences than others, and there's a startling takeaway: your next "big" decision will play a meaningful role in our collective ability to reach Net-Zero by 2050.

  10. Why Pacific Island Nations, like the Federated States of Micronesia, need Climate Change Finance for Food Security Now

    - Inter Press Service

    SYDNEY, Australia, Jun 28 (IPS) - Robby Nena is one of the many farmers and fishermen on the frontline of climate change in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), where coastal flooding and erosion, variable and heavy rainfall, increased temperature, droughts and other extreme weather events are becoming all too common.

  11. On climate change frontline, indigenous provide pointers to save planet

    - UN News

    Indigenous people living on the frontline of climate change could offer potentially ground-breaking insight into biodiversity protection and sustainability, but they urgently need help to withstand a growing number of threats to their way of life, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) said on Friday. 

  12. Central Sahel: Ground Zero in Tackling Climate Change Through Education

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW YORK, Jun 16 (IPS) - The climate crisis is amplifying the effects of instability and violence in the world’s poorest countries. Nowhere is this more visible than in Africa’s Central Sahel region, where increasing temperature, floods, droughts and other climate change-induced disasters are triggering conflicts, displacement, and pushing girls and boys into the shadows.

  13. UN Scientists: Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss. Two Parts. One Problem.

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Jun 11 (IPS) - Earth is in the throes of multiple environmental crises, with climate change and the loss of biodiversity the most pressing.

    The urgency to confront the two challenges has been marked by policies that tackle the issues separately.

    Now, a report by a team of scientists has warned that success on either front is hinged on a combined approach to the dual crises.

  14. From Climate Change to Covid, Are We Ready to Deal with Disasters?

    - Inter Press Service

    PARIS, Jun 10 (IPS) - In the last 20 years, disasters affected over 4 billion people. At global level we witness on average one sweeping disaster a day, the majority of which are floods and storms. From the Covid-19 pandemic to climate change, calamities are taking new shapes and sizes, infiltrating every dimension of society. From the emotional to the political, how do we deal with disasters? How can we create a whole-of-society approach to disaster risk reduction?

  15. Invasive pest spread another fallout from climate change, UN-backed study finds

    - UN News

    Climate change is making pests which ravage important agricultural crops even more destructive, heightening threats to global food security and the environment, a UN-backed study published on Wednesday has found. 

  16. The Global Insecurity of Climate Change

    - Inter Press Service

    BONN, Germany, May 21 (IPS) - For Sudanese youth, climate change is synonymous with insecurity.

  17. To Effectively Combat Climate Change, Listen and Act on Ideas from the Youth

    - Inter Press Service

    URBANA, Illinois, Apr 26 (IPS) - Recently, I participated in Kids Climate Summit 2021a virtual event that gave younger students an opportunity to take a stance on climate change, express their concerns, and learn about global climate and the actions we all can take to mitigate climate change. 

  18. Climate change top challenge over the next decade, UNESCO global survey finds

    - UN News

    A story from UN News

    Climate change and loss of biodiversity is seen as the most pressing challenge over the decade, according to the World in 2030 Survey report published on Wednesday by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). 

  19. International Women's Day 2021 A Post-COVID World Needs Amplified Womens Voices in Politics, Climate Change

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Mar 06 (IPS) - The UN says young women remain particularly underrepresented in politics and disproportionately excluded from consultation on issues that affect them such as climate change. This IPS International Women’s Day article features 2 young Saint Lucian women; one in her first year as a senator and the other, a champion for sustainable living and environmental protectio.

    The theme for International Women’s Day 2021, ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in the COVID-19 World,’ is grounded in the reality that this women’s day is unlike any other.

  20. How Households Increased Food Waste is Feeding Climate Change

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Mar 04 (IPS) - Twenty percent of all food bought by households, retailers, restaurants and other food services in 54 countries around the world was thrown away in 2019 -- contributing to some 931 million tonnes of food waste and feeding climate change.

  21. The Global Insecurity of Climate Change

    - Inter Press Service

    BONN, Germany, Feb 24 (IPS) - For Sudanese youth, climate change is synonymous with insecurity.

  22. Climate Change & Policy Making in Nepal

    - Inter Press Service

    KATHMANDU, Nepal, Feb 16 (IPS) - Raju Pandit Chhetri is one of the most acclaimed climate change policy experts in Nepal and South Asia. As Director of the Prakiriti Resource Centre, an action focused think tank based in Kathmandu, Pandit Cheetri shares his opinion on the latest climate focused policies being undertaken by the Government of Nepal, especially the 2nd Nationally Determined Contribution NDC that was recently submitted by the Government.

  23. What Worlds Largest Climate Change Public Opinion Poll Says

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Jan 27 (IPS) - Between October and December 2020, something was different for people playing popular video games like Words with Friends, Angry Birds and Subway Surfers. Instead of a traditional 30-second ad, gamers across the world were invited to participate in a climate change survey. It was an unconventional way of polling that gave University of Oxford researchers an opportunity to tap into the 2.7 billion user-strong gaming market and produce the world’s largest climate change public opinion poll.

  24. Driving Climate Change from the Top in the Dominican Republic

    - Inter Press Service

    SANTO DOMINGO, Nov 02 (IPS) - When President Luis Abinader arrived at his inauguration in an electrically driven car as a symbolic gesture of his Government's intentions to make sustainable development one of its main objectives – he signalled the start of addressing climate change commitments in the country.

  25. Working animals’ Role in SDGs and Addressing Climate Change, Pandemic Crises

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW YORK, Oct 14 (IPS) - As we prepare to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the  Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), it is time to recognise the role of working animals in livelihood systems, addressing climate change and in human health, which has been overlooked for too long. The Working Animal Alliance seeks to change this. 

  26. In India, Climate Change is Increasing Refugees & Human Trafficking

    - Inter Press Service

    KOLKATA, India, Jul 09 (IPS) - In India the impacts of climate change induced extreme weather events on the lives and livelihood of people, particularly belonging to the poor and vulnerable sections of the society, are increasing alarmingly with each passing year.

  27. Sweden-Costa Rica: Same Paths on Climate Change, Different on COVID-19

    - Inter Press Service

    ROME/SANTIAGO, Jun 24 (IPS) - The lack of a coordinated international response had led to varying results worldwide in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Two countries that have long coordinated their response to global goals like promotion on democracy, human rights and environmental issues, Sweden and Costa Rica highlight how public policy matters. While with their similar approaches to climate change the two walk together, their different approaches to COVID-19 have reaped disparate results, and death tolls.

  28. Our Message at Davos: Water & Sanitation Are a Critical Line of Defence Against Climate Change

    - Inter Press Service

    LONDON, Jan 31 (IPS) - There was only one topic on everyone's lips at Davos this year – climate change. The headlines focused on the cold war between Greta Thunberg and Donald Trump, but there was much greater consensus among those gathered for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

  29. Will 2020 World Economic Forum Deliver on Combating Climate Change?

    - Inter Press Service

    AMSTERDAM, Jan 22 (IPS) - Eco Matser is Hivos global Climate Change / Energy and Development CoordinatorFor the first time, the world's elites meeting this year at Davos have listed environmental issues as their top concerns about the next decade.

  30. Climate Change and Financial Risk

    - Inter Press Service

    WASHINGTON DC, Jan 16 (IPS) - Climate change is already a reality. Ever-more-ferocious cyclones and extended droughts lead to the destruction of infrastructure and the disruption of livelihoods and contribute to mass migration.

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  • by Anup Shah
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