Friday, December 14, 2012

DOHA 2012 Climate Change Conference

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) created the Conference of the Parties (COP) in order to get developed and non-developed nations to produce a plan to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and help prevent global climate change.

Despite recent events like Hurricane Sandy, Doha 2012 COP 18 saw little progress towards a lasting agreement of significant limits on GHG emissions.

No major progress has been made with regard to any of the issues. One of the focal points of this year’s conference has been extending the Kyoto Protocol commitments, which are set to expire at the end of this year. Doha 2012 punted by simply extending Kyoto. The real issue with Kyoto though is how to track and enforce the commitment of different countries. And how to find an equitable solution that will satisfy all stakeholders.

While extending Kyoto is a necessary action, it certainly does not solve our global warming problems. For one, the Kyoto only applied to developed nations, so China, Brazil and India were not a part of any emission reduction agreements. With these nations rapidly industrializing, it is crucial to involve them in some kind of GHG emissions reduction pact. One way is for developed countries to lead with ambitious reduction goals, with the United States participating; something that has not happened up to this point.

Arab countries’ involvement is also critical and many hoped that holding COP 18 in Qatar would help encourage Arab nations to become more involved in climate negotiations. Unfortunately, few Arab nations seem interested. With many of these countries sitting on vast oil reserves with significant solar potential, they have failed to set any targets for solar energy use.

In a recent interview, the U.N. Secretary General said that developed nations should assume most of the responsibility in fighting climate change as historically developed nations have caused the most damage.  While many would not disagree with this assertion, it does not bring the parties closer to an agreement. 

Obviously developed nations are most responsible for our current dilemma. However, developing nations like China, Brazil and India are rapidly industrializing and are now will certainly in the future be a major source of GHG emissions and contribute significantly to global warming. The solution has to involve everyone.  

Assisted by Michael Ciccarone

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