The first thing I saw when coming into Qatar was the intense glow of gas flares, a common sight in oil-producing countries. I spotted the flames from a distance as I stared out of the aeroplane window, wondering what the climate talks in Doha would produce.
Qatar is one of the leading producers of oil globally and has the highest number of greenhouse gas emissions per person on the planet. It is also the first Gulf country to host the international climate change talks. An irony you cannot fail to miss.
Arriving in Doha, I joined other climate justice campaigners to continue the call to world leaders to take international action on climate change.
After the vibrant civil society engagement at last year’s meeting in Durban, South Africa, my first impression of this year’s meeting was that it seemed quieter. The hot weather and Doha’s futuristic skyline is certainly not reflected in the negotiations.
Inside the extremely large venue, the early stages of the climate talks are striking a much colder tone. The sense of urgency so crucial to tackling the issue is absent.
In 2012 the world witnessed floods in the Philippines, droughts in East and West Africa and Hurricane Sandy tearing its way through the Caribbean and North America.
We also heard warnings from the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and large corporations on how climate change would impact the lives of the poor – the very people who have done the least to contribute to climate change.
This year’s negotiations are crucial to paving the way for a new climate deal that must be agreed by 2015.
It’s about outlining the vision for a fair, ambitious and binding deal – so badly needed to address the injustices of climate change – and putting in place the process to achieve it.
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About the AuthorKarl Burkart is the Digital Communications Director for the GCCA, the Global Call for Climate Action, and TckTckTck, a network of 400+ diverse organizations working around the world for greater action on the growing problem of climate change. Karl also blogs on technology and the environment for a variety of publications. You can follow him on Twitter @greendig.
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