News / Science & Technology

Experts Not Hopeful About Doha Climate Conference

Al Pessin
When representatives from around the world meet in Doha, Qatar, November 26 through December 7, they may feel a new sense of urgency to address their assigned topic, climate change. Experts are not very hopeful, however, about the meeting.

For decades, talk of climate change has evoked images of melting ice and stranded polar bears. But it is not just about the polar bears any more. Experts say warming temperatures and rising oceans are contributing to the creation of larger, more destructive storms.

At the London offices of the environmental group Greenpeace, chief policy adviser Ruth Davis said as more people experience climate change effects, policy changes become more likely.
“More and more people are becoming subjects of the impacts of climate change. And it is really important that governments going into Doha recognize that and take that in with them, so they have a sense of urgency and focus,” said Davis.

Climate disasters not only affect those who lose their homes, but also impact crop yields, food prices, insurance rates, public health and many other issues. The director of the Climate Change Institute at London’s Imperial College, Brian Hoskins, said the key to generating support for policy changes may be when those events happen more often, and more severely, in influential countries.

“There is a tendency to think that disasters might happen in Bangladesh, but they would not happen in New Orleans or New York. But they have happened in New Orleans and New York. We see that however advanced we think we are in terms of development, we are still very dependent on the environment,” said Hoskins.

Greenpeace's Davis said leaders need to recognize the costs of inaction, and also the benefits of promoting alternative ways to produce energy, that do not contribute to global warming - methods like solar, wind and geothermal power generation.

“It would take a decade, maybe longer, to be able to shift the situation. But it would not take so long to be able to get to a place where we began to deploy those technologies on an enormous scale," she said. "Then, once we have started, actually the huge benefits associated with rolling out large-scale renewable energy will be such that this will be a snowball effect.”

But experts do not expect much from the upcoming U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. The most they are hoping for is a renewed commitment to reach agreement in 2015 about environmental standards that would take effect five years later.

The experts say an agreement with universal standards, transparency and incentives to use new technologies could at least begin to reverse the effects of global warming. But they worry about whether the political will exists, and how many more people will have to suffer from climate disasters before the process even starts.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs