News / Science & Technology

Amid Gloomy Climate News, Doha Talks Enter Final Week

Somali refugees flee flooding in Dadaab, Kenya, an area prone to both drought and flooding from a changing climate. (UNHCR, B. Bannon)
Somali refugees flee flooding in Dadaab, Kenya, an area prone to both drought and flooding from a changing climate. (UNHCR, B. Bannon)
Rosanne Skirble
High level officials from more than 200 countries are in Doha, Qatar, for talks that began last week on the next steps after the Kyoto Protocol, the U.N. climate change treaty expires this year.  

The ministers arrive in the face of bad news for the planet. A spate of new scientific studies finds worldwide greenhouse gas emissions rising and ice sheets melting rapidly, and predicts a planetary warming of as much as five degrees Celsius by the end of this century unless nations act immediately to reduce their industrial emissions of CO2 and other climate-changing greenhouse gases.  

The executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change told a Doha news briefing Monday that nations are not moving fast enough. 

Doha Climate Treaty Talks Continue
Climate Talks Continuei
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

“What gives me frustration is the fact that we are very far behind what science says we should be doing,”  Christiana Figueres said.

Poor want wealthy to pay for climate problems

Figueres hopes ministers in Doha will extend the 1997 Kyoto agreement, under which the wealthiest industrial nations were obliged to cut their industrial emissions. At Doha, they’re being asked to make further cuts.  
The first climate change rally ever in the streets of Doha Qatar at the UN Climate Change meeting. (Richard Casson, Oxfam)The first climate change rally ever in the streets of Doha Qatar at the UN Climate Change meeting. (Richard Casson, Oxfam)
x
The first climate change rally ever in the streets of Doha Qatar at the UN Climate Change meeting. (Richard Casson, Oxfam)
The first climate change rally ever in the streets of Doha Qatar at the UN Climate Change meeting. (Richard Casson, Oxfam)

Dlamini Emmanuel, who heads the African Group of Negotiators in Doha, worries about the fate of poorer nations - those least able to protect themselves from climate change - should international ministers either fail to extend the Kyoto Protocol or craft a new treaty to replace it.    

"This process is our only hope because we are likely to be doomed because the catastrophic impacts in our natural systems, eco-systems, particularly humankind in Africa cannot be imagined,” Emmanuel says.  

Poorer nations also want more funding to help them adapt to a warmer world, with its rising sea levels and more violent storms.

Jennifer Morgan directs the climate and energy program at the World Resources Institute. She says that funding will be in doubt when Kyoto expires. “There’s no certainty of what will come next.  And of course in these economic times it is a difficult discussion and it’s definitely one that will go until the end game.”

US wants all nations included

Many countries are looking for leadership from the United States. The U.S. signed but never ratified the Kyoto agreement in part because emerging economies like China, India and Brazil, which are now among the world’s largest emitters, were exempted.  

U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change, Todd Stern, told reporters in Doha that any new climate treaty must include emissions-cutting commitments from all countries and be scaled to the world of the 2020s, when it would take effect.

“It’s built on countries’ national circumstances and their capabilities and not built on their ideology, not built on an ideology that says we are going to draw a line down the middle of the world and countries are on one side or another and if you are on one side you have no obligations and if you are on the other side you have all.”

Domestic policies hold back US lead

While hopes are high that the U.S. will take the lead in Doha with new emission pledges, some experts doubt if the Obama Administration has the political support at home to significantly alter its climate policies.  Alexander Ochs, an energy and climate analyst with the World Watch Institute in Doha says the U.S. has its hands bound.  

(l-r) United Nations Climate Change Convention, Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres; Convention President Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah; and former Convention President Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. (IISD Reporting Services)(l-r) United Nations Climate Change Convention, Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres; Convention President Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah; and former Convention President Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. (IISD Reporting Services)
x
(l-r) United Nations Climate Change Convention, Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres; Convention President Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah; and former Convention President Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. (IISD Reporting Services)
(l-r) United Nations Climate Change Convention, Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres; Convention President Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah; and former Convention President Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. (IISD Reporting Services)
"On the one hand, having this high expectation here of other countries that the United States should be  in a leadership role and on the other hand not being able to move more ambitiously to fulfill those targets and those commitments because of domestic resistance.”

WRI’s Jennifer Morgan agrees, but expects nations to press the U.S. to do more. "I think that the hope is that in a second term, the Obama Administration would become much more ambitious and progressive in these negotiations and build coalitions.”
 
Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, says the progress she’s seen over the past several years makes her optimistic about the process.  

“What gives me hope is fully confidence that we will here in Doha deliver another firm step in the right direction.”  

But Figueres adds that negotiations to put the brakes on global climate change still face a long road ahead. The Climate Change talks in Doha are due to end Friday.

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Joseph Woo from: Ontario Canada
December 04, 2012 11:25 PM
How can we reduce the production of carbon dioxide when everybody on this world want growth. Any growth mean more energy being consumed. Moreover, the population keep growing and everybody demand better standard of living which again consume more energy.
If anyone want to reduce greenhouse gas why not start with population control. It is so simple less people less energy consumption less greenhouse gas production.
In Response

by: Jackson from: Atlanta Georgia
December 05, 2012 12:51 PM
You sound like a chinese communist. A 1 child policy isn't the answer, the answer is alternative fuel, stuff that doesn't produce carbon monoxide.
In Response

by: Andy from: Romania
December 05, 2012 7:18 AM
Well, Joseph why don't you kill youself to let others enjoy life..or if you have a family can you force them to die so that "less people" be in action?? The problem is not the money or energy needed.. there is energy that can be harvested, Tesla did it and was killed for that, energy that dosn;t involve petroleum ... read a book or something before saying stupid things Joseph (like Stalin, he also killed millions of russians).

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More