Reflections on Doha climate talks

The multi-stakeholder magazine Outreach gave a tremendous service by keeping environmentalists who could not attend the Conference of Parties (COP-18) held in Doha, Qatar, informed of the day to developments as the talks progressed. Reflections from COP 18 was an important window through which impressions of some participants were published making readers have the feel of what was on there. Given below are a series of reflections from day one of the conference. We put the series in descending order. (Courtesy: Outreach)

Thursday 6 December

Saurav Dhakal: British Council Climate Champion, Nepal
When I first entered the COP18 Conference building I was both amazed and happy to see the excited faces of the diverse range of people from around the world. By contrast, today, the atmosphere among the participants was one of frustration, especially regarding the youth delegates. Maybe to our delegate peers – those which hold the power and the money – we, the youth, are in too much of a hurry. We may seem more emotional and impatient, but it is immensely frustrating that the pressure we are exerting is not having the desired impact on this really long bureaucratic process. All we can seem to wish for at this late stage is for the parties to come to an agreement, even if it is a weak one.
Nevertheless, it was positive to hear that my country Nepal will be taking over from the Gambia as the UNFCCC Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group chair for 2013-14. We are one of the 48 LDCs negotiating as this specific coordination group. Delegates have expressed that Nepal’s participation in COPs is increasingly focused and provides an important qualitative perspective, though – despite these strengths – is still far from being influential. Through the British Council, with the support of the Nepali Delegate team, we have organised a virtual climate conference with youth in Nepal whilst here at COP18.
Nepal’s country delegates have been playing their designated roles as official Party members, but have also been visible, heard and acknowledged across a range of forums and side events. The Government’s recent formation of a Core Negotiating Team, which includes non-government experts and practitioners, has been a positive step in increasing the effectiveness of the delegation, as has the allocation of responsibilities based on interests and expertise, which has added further vigour to the team performance.
Nepal is not alone in its stance on climate change, and shares key priorities with a number of delegations, especially within the LDC Group. Through this grouping, we will continue to present and defend our views, and try to win support for them from other members.
During COP18 I have also enjoyed the activities we have undertaken in many schools and a university in Doha as a part of a British Council community engagement programme. I learnt that the youth of Doha are both aware of and active on climate change issues but nonetheless need to improve their practical understanding of them.

Farrukh Zaman: Adopt a Negotiator Fellow
Perhaps the most important issue that is not attracting as much attention as other items related to the Kyoto Protocol or finance at COP18 is “Loss and Damage” (L&D). It is one of the issues that is being hotly contested by both the developed and developing countries, with each trying to advance their own agendas. A decision on the subject is still pending at COP18 and is likely to continue through the high-level segment where ministers will take a final move on the issue.
So what are loss and damage?
Past actions by nations have been inadequate in responding to climate change impacts such as extreme weather events (floods, storms) and slow onset conditions (sea-level rise, desertification). When emissions reduction efforts fail and responses to climate impacts reach their limits, the subsequent effects result in permanent loss and damage. In this case, the loss and damage mechanisms come into play and rehabilitate and/or compensate affected communities for permanent loss and damage incurred that cannot be reversed.
International Framework on Loss and Damage
Currently, efforts are being made to develop an international mechanism on compensation and rehabilitation. The developing countries and Alliance of Small Island Developing States (AOSIS) are calling for an international insurance facility to protect them against the damage of climate impacts. This requires money from the developed countries, who as historic emitters, need to mobilise additional funding than just the $100 billion they are currently being asked for. Of course, this is met with a lot of friction from the developed nations who see the concept of loss and damage as having legal and moral consequences.
Last year in Durban, parties agreed to a work program on loss and damage, through which five expert meetings were held focusing on three thematic areas: assessing the risk of loss and damage, approaches and the role of the Convention (UNFCCC). As a next step, an international mechanism was to be agreed upon in Doha. However, developed nations oppose the idea and instead want to continue the work programme (organising five more workshops) for another year. But developing countries seem adamant about continuing with the idea of compensation due to loss and damage and want a separate track to be established dedicated to this issue, but there is no convergence on it so far.
(This article was previously published by The Adopt a Negotiator Project

Wednesday 5 December

Luke Kemp: Australian National University, Fenner School of Environment and Society
COP18 has made it clear that business, as usual, is no longer an option in regards to the climate regime, and this includes the decision-making of the UNFCCC.
Consensus has become one of the rules that we love to hate in the UNFCCC. It has given laggards and blockers a veto over the past years and has led to many stalled negotiations, late nights and missed opportunities. This issue has led to a proposal by Mexico and Papua New Guinea, to introduce majority voting into the COP, an item that has been discussed in Doha. No contact group was established on this, but instead, negotiations have been undertaken through bi-laterals and informal discussions. The transparency issues of this process aside, it has become quite clear that this proposal will not be passed at COP18 but instead will be forwarded to the agenda of COP19.
Interestingly, a consensus is not even the official rule of the COP; it is simply an informal default procedure that is used in the vacuum of having no rules of procedure. The COP never managed to agree to its rules of procedure originally and has essentially operated for two decades without any. One rule (15.3) that is enshrined in the UNFCCC is that amendments to the Convention itself can be made through a three quarters majority vote. Majority voting can be implemented through a majority vote – meaning that this is not a political impossibility for post-COP18 negotiations.
The problem, as always, is power politics. It has become apparent that many States do not wish to lose their veto over a process which can fundamentally affect their national interests. This is especially important for the superpowers of negotiations. It is unlikely that the US will find it fair to have the same voting ability as a Small Island State. Yet, there is potential for creative compromise, such as weighting voting to reflect GDP or emissions.
The concept of majority voting, whether it is weighted or not, has been flying under the radar of negotiations, especially for civil society. However, recently, YOUNGO has officially adopted support to the majority voting proposal as a group position. It is vital that this issue receives further attention through negotiations and the wider public. Why? Because majority voting may be one of the few ways forward for a process that is now being seen as a multilateral zombie.

Luke McGreevy: Global Voices, Australia
On the second Wednesday of COP18, the first informal ministerial round table discussions were the highlight of the day. Several members of the youth NGO constituency to the UNFCCC, known as YOUNGO, received passes to be able to hear officials discuss the issues that are most crucial to their country.
The meeting opened with a keynote speech from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The Secretary-General emphasised the need for political leadership in the climate change negotiations and highlighted that all areas of government need to be involved in working on climate change policies. He also suggested that strategic partnerships between government, the private sector and civil society will be critical in the coming years. He announced that he is considering bringing together world leaders in 2014 to discuss climate change, to build momentum for the work on the Durban Platform in 2015.
As each country began to address the issues most crucial to expanding climate change efforts domestically, a number of themes began to emerge. As was noted by one of the Co-Chairs during the discussions, there was a lot of consensus around increased ambition of carbon-reduction pledges, especially in the pre-2020 period. There was also some acknowledgement of the positive moves made by France, Germany and the United Kingdom in the last few days, in dedicating funds to help finance mitigation and adaptation programmes in developing countries.
Areas still needing further discussion included, increasing the amount of finance available for mitigation and adaptation programmes, which many developing countries highlighted was the only way they could further their already significant domestic actions. The issue of equity and the principles of the UNFCCC were also discussed in-depth, and Parties appeared to be talking past one another as little common ground was found on what the actual responsibility of developed and developing countries respectively should be. Overall, while many speakers emphasised the importance of keeping global temperature rise below 2⁰C, there were few signs that this goal is still achievable, due to the lack of ambition currently witnessed in these negotiations.

Tuesday 4 December

Verona Collantes, UN Women
With negotiators saying yes to gender equality, it seems that where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Negotiations could drag on for years, even a decade, but they could also close in two days or less. Such was the case in the consultations on the draft text of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) decision on “Promoting gender equality and improving the participation of women in UNFCCC negotiations and in the representation of Parties in bodies established pursuant to the Convention or the Kyoto Protocol”. What a welcome relief that in a very tense negotiating environment, where entrenched positions of key players delay reaching compromise agreements on many fronts, Parties could actually agree that gender equality must be promoted in the UNFCCC.
The prompt endorsement of this decision for consideration by the COP is very rewarding and a source of inspiration to someone like me who has seen protracted negotiations that remain in deadlock after a decade (yes, I’m talking about the Doha round of the World Trade Organization negotiations), or negotiations that resulted in failure to reach a compromise outcome because of controversial terms linked to sexual and reproductive health or sex education. The Rio+20 negotiations that went on until the wee hours of the morning the day before the high-level officials were expected to endorse the Outcome Document, also risked a deal or no deal package.
On the gender equality decision, I’ve seen delegations put forward what looked like a make or break deal; delegations were slighted and quieted down. But the high spirits lingered. The willingness to have a “historic decision”, as one of the co-facilitators kept on reminding the negotiators, was sustained throughout. It was clear to everybody in the room that they did not want to leave Doha without that gender issue gaveled. All delegates – women and MEN (yes, there were men there too) in a common endeavour to support what should be obvious, but unfortunately not yet so obvious to all, said, yes to gender equality in climate change negotiations.
But then again, we’re not done, we’re never done – the implementation awaits. So now, it is up to all of us to ensure that actions are taken not only on gender balance but ultimately, that this will result in a gender-sensitive climate policy for the benefit of all.

Sareka Jahan, British Council, Bangladesh
The objective of my participation at COP18 is to raise the voice of gender and climate education. Since the beginning, I have followed all official discussions and side events on these two issues. At this round of negotiations, the first ever official gender day has been observed at COP18 and has encouraged me to engage more actively on gender justice. When the COP18 President Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah declared that gender is firmly on the agenda for COP18, I felt proud to be a gender activist.
Under the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) Agenda Item 21; there has been a lot of discussion on the topic; mainly focusing on how gender can become a formal agenda and how to increase the participation of women by 2015. At the negotiation table, Least Developed Countries (LDCs) called for greater representation of women in the UNFCCC process. But exactly how many from developed and how many from developing is subject to further negotiation.
Climate Education is another area which I am devoted to, something evidenced in my regular endeavours around tailoring, customising and translating a web-based educational resource for teachers and students called Climate4Classrooms. I was privileged to be a panellist in the side event on “Engaging and empowering children and young people for resilience and green development” jointly organised by the British Council, Earth Child Institute, UNICEF and UNEP on 29 November. During the panel discussion; I shed light on innovative, web-based approaches of mainstreaming climate education in line with UNFCCC Article 6.
Community engagement was another core intervention area of the British Council delegation, in which I have taken a lead role in facilitating climate education sessions focusing on climate science, conceptual clarity and active engagement, with school students of Qatar being the primary audience of the sessions. Here we tried to ignite the interest of the young people of Qatar in climate change and to improve their understanding and ability to address adaptation and mitigation issues. Our journey will continue until the majority of the world’s future generation is aware of climate change.

Monday 3 December

Bramley Lyngdoh, Worldview Impact; Pam Puntenney, Environmental and Human Systems Management
Week one of COP 18 saw governments building upon their previous work from Bonn and Bangkok on Article 6 of the Convention (on education, training and public awareness), by creating a draft text, and – through the work of the Dominican Republic – a proposal was developed regarding procedures and clear lines of decision-making under the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI). At the end of the session, at 2:32 am, the SBI adopted the establishment of the Doha Work Programme on Article 6 of the Convention.
Of special note, on Saturday the Parties adopted an eight-year programme focusing on education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information, and international cooperation. The six elements have been clustered into two focal groups, alternating each year. In 2013, the first group – education and training – will be the topic of discussion for the first annual in-session dialogue on Article 6.
A review of the work programme will occur in 2020, with an intermediate review of progress in 2016. Broad stakeholder engagement is the centrepiece of the agreement. The question remains if Article 6 will be part of the negotiations and outcomes from the Climate Investment Fund (CIF). Without a strong financial commitment to the programme of work, Article 6 will be marginalised as a soft policy, difficult to justify. A second challenge surrounds the responsibility to enhance the programme of work through a multi-stakeholder, intergenerational platform of engagement.
Yesterday saw the launch of the UN Alliance on Climate Change Education, Training, and Public Awareness. The mission is to promote meaningful, result-oriented and effective international cooperation in support of the implementation of the Doha Work Programme on Article 6. This is an important starting point for UN agencies to ‘act as one’. The larger question, however, is can the Alliance transform their approaches to ones which engage stakeholders and therefore uphold Annex Section A (2) of the Programme.
Research shows that communities that are resilient to climate change impacts are based upon the culture, traditions and values, recognition of which is absent from the Bali Action Plan and the second set of Kyoto Protocol commitments. This is where the Doha Work Programme on Article 6 will be the lens through which we work.
The Work Programme can be viewed here:, Contact:

Shah Mohammad Ashraful Amin: Christian Aid, Bangladesh
COP18 is important in terms of its unique geopolitical location since this is the first time ever that a COP has taken place in the Gulf Region. It is also very important from a temporal dimension, as it is taking place at the end of the first commitment period and the beginning of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (KP). Furthermore, the expected conclusion of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) and the beginning of a new era of negotiations under the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) has further increased the significance of COP18.
Since the Conference started on 26th November, lots of discussions have taken place on preparing a work plan on ADP with clear milestone and deadlines; amendment of 2nd commitment period of KP, creating new opportunities for public financing, the work programme on Loss and Damage Assessment; and fostering national adaptation plans through Adaptation Committee.
At the half-way point of the two-week climate talks, the debate on the length of the commitment period of the KP is ongoing. The Least Developed Country (LDC) group is expecting a five year commitment period, whereas the EU is pushing for eight years. New Zealand, Canada and Japan have all said that they will not sign up – threatening the future of a legally binding agreement on emission reductions.
Besides this, there is still a lot of ambiguity regarding climate finance. In the Cancun Agreement it was clearly stated that the money from Fast Start Finance is to be “new and additional”, but to date, it is not clear whether Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) counts under this definition.
In spite of several conflicting issues, it can still be expected that there will be no gap between the first and second commitment period of the KP, that various institutional arrangements and bodies will be operational, and that there will be some clarity on the disbursement of Fast Start Finance and the scale of finance between 2013-2020 by the end of COP18.

Saturday 30 November

Rennie Qin: International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations
Health is unique in the sense that it is both an endpoint of climate change effects on other sectors and also a capacity that is much needed for the development of other sectors. For this reason, it must be considered as a central principle in all negotiations. Protecting health in climate change is not just about its inclusion in the text, but also in its implementation. Yet the issue has largely been absent from the discussions that took place in Doha last week.
The place of health in the COP18 negotiations is two-fold. Firstly, it can be used as a powerful motivation for climate change mitigation. In the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) negotiations this week, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) mentioned health as a moral argument for ambitious mitigation pledges. Arguably the best way to protect health in climate change is for temperature rise to stay below 1.5°C.
Secondly, health has to be protected in adaptation. In the soon-to-be-closed Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) negotiations, there are many areas for its inclusion. Health should be considered as a central principle in the shared vision and part of the social and economic consequences of response.
A health-in-all-policy approach should be incorporated into inter-sectoral responses. Health must be a part of technology transfer, capacity building and finance discussions. It was therefore disappointing that there was a distinct lack of mention of health in these areas during last week’s negotiations.
In the SBI discussions, it is positive to see that public health education is already a part of Article 6. Negative health impacts have to be recognised as one of the key damages associated with climate change. Health impact, risk assessment and management, as well as insurance cover for health, must be included as a part of the new loss and damage work programme.
The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (AWG-ADP) negotiations open an exciting area for many health co-benefits of climate change mitigation to be incorporated in, as well as traditional economic co-benefits. We shall follow the negotiations with an eye on health co-benefits as AWG-ADP shapes up in the coming week.

Jade Neville: British Council Climate Champion
With the excitement of Young and Future Generations (YoFuGe) day over, the first week at COP18 drew to a close. Progress within the negotiations slowly but surely indicates that final agreements are beginning to form. On Friday, Christiana Figueres announced that by the end of Saturday, documentation and text would be produced for all Ad-hoc Working Group and Subsidiary Body issues, giving delegates piles of reading to look forward to on Sunday!
On Friday afternoon, a press briefing with Chairman Fahad Bin Mohammed Al-Attiya focused on Qatar’s Commitment to Civil Society Engagement on Climate Change Issues. “As it is Friday, all around the city hundreds of mosques are giving their sermons. What is interesting is that 150 of those mosques are giving their sermons on climate change and on the environment, which is exciting news. It seems the message is being received by a wide range of communities as we speak.”
As the British Council delegation is gearing up to give presentations on climate change in schools and universities across Doha next week, there are additional signs that the conference is rousing interest and discussion in the area. According to Fahad Bin Mohammed Al-Attiya, this year’s COP has witnessed unprecedented participation from NGOs within the region. Around 50 Arab NGOs are in attendance, with the presidency supporting regional NGOs to increase participation and community support. Outside of the COP, Friday night also saw The Indigenous Environmental Network present the Middle Eastern premiere of The Carbon Rush in Doha.
COP18 President Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah also announced that Qatar is planning a green transportation system to get more people in Doha using public transport. Headway is clearly being made but, with Qatar having higher carbon dioxide emissions per capita than any other nation, is this sparked new interest within the country really significant enough?

Thursday 29 November

Jian-Chao Wang: British Council Climate Champion
Today, on the fourth day of COP18, youth groups held several important events. Because today was the Young and Future Generations (YoFuGe) Day! First, a youth moderated discussion with H.E. Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, the COP18 President, was held in the morning, on the state of COP18 and the role of youth in the climate talks. The president actually cancelled the NGO-wide briefing yesterday evening but decided late last night to hold a briefing for youth only, after hearing it would be YoFuGe day today.
During the briefing, H.E. Abdullah mentioned to the youth he still remembers being a young student and expressed the strong opinion that:
“If we don’t support youth, who should we support?”
in response to questioning his support of the youth. He told the young people in attendance that action against climate change is an affair of all ages and all nations. Instead of pointing blame at each other, the Parties should take action and work as a team to move forward. Regarding Qatar’s national situation, he described the investment Qatar has put into science and technology in areas such as renewable energy and CO2 emissions reduction. The President also presented on how the COP panel and Qatar are supporting women to be a solution to climate change.
The Inter-generation Inquiry took place later in the day and was attended by Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Christiana Figures, former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson and Representative to the UN for Grenada, Dessima Williams. Mary Robinson’s speech about the importance of responsibility and justice to climate change won big applause from the youth:
“as a youth, you should feel angry about what is happening and throw your shoes at the TV next time you see it”.
I am happy to witness such active involvement of this stakeholder group in all parts of the Conference and hope that the youth of today become key decision makers in the future.

Tariq Al-Olaimy: AYCM Coordinator for the Kingdom of Bahrain
In the negotiations, discussions around the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) are getting very serious with two roundtables on ambition today, and one roundtable on a 2015 agreement, as well as a planned roundtable on finance for later on in the week. During long-term finance discussions, the Filipino negotiator took the floor saying, “I am surprised we still don’t have long-term finance in 2012. With proposals put forward such as the Green Climate Fund Forum, and the context of the global economic situation, it doesn’t seem that there is much scope within COP18 for concrete pledges.”
From civil society, today was future and young generations day. Arab Youth undertook actions asking Arab countries, and Qatar especially, to submit concrete pledges for mitigation targets at COP18 in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Whether from civil society or government delegations, a lot of questions have been raised on the direction of the COP18 President, Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah. In a meeting with youth today, he answered questions on his role as a president and his hopes for COP18:
“There are many complicated issues; how to balance the world, how to tackle climate issues, as well as how to balance between interests and decision. The challenge is to produce a text that brings together everyone, and is not just representative of Qatar.”
“The world should move quick, failure will not be the individual failure, but to the whole world. Success will also benefit the whole world.”

Wednesday 28 November

Chulani Kandage: British Council Climate Champion
In my 15 years as an environmental activist, Doha 2012 is my first COP experience. The day started by attending a plenary session on the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The chair presented the CDM report for the last year, to which many countries actively provided a wide range of comments ideas about the Mechanism. Most countries were not satisfied with the methodologies, framework and achievements of the CDM, and suggested redefining its goals and objectives. Others emphasised the need to search for innovative funding methods.
Subsequently, I attended a side event on “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation” which was presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and chaired by Dr. Renate Christ. During the discussion, the panel put forward different examples from all over the world such as hurricanes in the USA, flash floods in Nairobi, Kenya, and drought in Africa. These presentations stimulated an animated discussion amongst the audience of over 200 people, which seemingly enhanced the participants’ knowledge on the interrelationship between climate change and extreme events.
I also experienced some interesting discussions today about equity and climate change. Another side event entitled “Closing the equity gap – Is equity enabler or barrier to increasing ambition?” explored this relationship, with the discussion focusing on three key dimensions: limiting planetary warming, sharing efforts and disaggregating means (finance etc.). The discussion panel concluded that equity must be seen as an enabler for increasing the ambition of climate change efforts.
At this stage, however, these discussions remain exactly that, just discussions. The real question is whether the negotiators here at COP will take these messages on board and make the bold commitments so urgently needed to avoid a climate catastrophe. To quote Senator John Kerry, “Climate change is real. The science is compelling. And the longer we wait, the harder the problem will be to solve.”.

Rina Kuusipalo: Harvard University
While leaders – especially of developed countries – lack the needed sense of urgency, equity, and intergenerational justice, young people growing up in a world increasingly mired by the impacts of climate change have come together to ask COP18: what kind of a world do you leave for us to inherit?
In the first few days of negotiations, youth from different countries and organisations have stood up to tell stories of how climate change impacts us now, and how direly we need a binding, fair, and ambitious deal. The backdrop to the campaign has been the #ClimateLegacy map, a visual representation of recent local impacts of a rapidly warming world. The map demonstrates that no one is safe from climate change anymore. Each red dot on the map and pinned onto people’s chests in the conference halls represents an individual story of the climate legacy we already live.
Foreshadowing the Youth and Future Generations Day, in this morning’s Climate Legacy action, young people stressed the principles of international and intergenerational justice. Rajan Thapa from Nepal urged rich countries to take on greater responsibility, since countries like his, the least responsible for climate change, are the ones facing the most pressing impacts of melting glaciers and mounting conflicts.
Pin-Han Huang from Taiwan described the typhoon that hit her island nation home in 2009, illustrating how whole villages disappeared in the mud. Jane Nurse from Grenada pointed out that climate impacts are often even deeper than the media coverage allows. Many island nations like hers have no capacity to recover from the recurring devastation of ever more frequent storms, which destroy the economic infrastructure for years to come, not to mention the human scars.
The afternoon’s side event on “Closing the Equity Gap” reinforced the call for justice as part of the climate legacy. Developed countries, in particular, must deliver what they owe their developing counterparts, our generation, and future generations. In Doha, leaders will choose between two paths to 2015: a climate legacy tarred by short-term profits, fossil fuels, and human loss, or, a climate legacy that delivers ecologically sound, economically just human prosperity for generations to come.

Tuesday 27 November

Prianka Ball: British Council Climate Champion
After my first day at COP, I was looking forward to what lies next to me. Day two came with its own bowl of activities, expectations and excitements. It started with the regular schedule of the YOUNGO meeting where we had a discussion about minors not being able to attend COP and the steps we can do to alter the UN constituency. The barrier of age is very disappointing considering the passion that each of these young people holds and the work they have been doing in their own countries to forge a better future, free from the impact of climate change.
COP certainly does not lack work or activities. Being a young person working at a grassroots level, I would say it is the prime ground of learning and interaction that can help enable better climate-related interventions in the place I come from. COP seems to hold everything for everyone.
Today was Gender Day and it was hard to choose one event over another for a subject which is very close to my heart. It was the first time Gender Day was being observed at COP. It was a very good initiative but how effective can a Gender Day be when gender issues are not even on the agenda this time. Coming from a developing country that is prone to disasters, I have seen women be the direct victims of the effects of climate change. Women are farmers without ownership of lands; women have to walk distances just to have proper drinking water for their family. If gender issues are not an agenda here in COP then how can degradation of women can be solved at the grassroots level?
The best moment of the day was when I was in one of the gender-related side events listening to Farah Kabir, Liane Schalatek and other inspiring women. I heard of the concerns and the expectations women have for the COP.

Pujarini Sen: Adopt a Negotiator Fellow
On day two of COP18 in Doha, things speeded up a little bit from day one. I was at the Qatar National Convention Center by 8:30 am with the rest of my Adopt a Negotiator team (you’ll find us on the green couches near the spider around this time every morning), suitably sleep deprived and in need of a caffeine shot.
Today marked the first sessions of several of the seven tracks that are part of this negotiation process. The LCA (Long-Term Cooperative Action) session was of particular interest. Cracks started showing right from the word go.
There was talk about closing the track, as is scheduled in Doha, as well as calls to continue in the fast track for at least the next two years. Historical responsibility and equity were discussed.
But the most heart-wrenching part for me was when the Philippines said:
“Unfortunately, we do not have good news to share. Last year alone we lost 3000 people. We are surviving. Just surviving. And we are doing it completely on our own resources. The drowning needs to stop Mr.Chairman.”
They, like many others, called for strong financial action, and the filling of the Green Climate Fund, something the developing world – especially the most vulnerable countries in the developing world – desperately need.
Today was also Gender Day. It opened with a discussion with Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC’s Executive Secretary, Mary Robinson and Alcinda Abreu. Ms.Abreu reinforced that:
“There is no sustainable development without incorporating gender into our plans.”
Meanwhile, the Fossil of the Day went to Turkey, the fourth largest investor in coal, with the second prize going to EU, who do not want to reduce their emissions for the next eight years until 2020, now that they have already met their pledged goals!
For more, see:,

Monday 26 November

Luke McGreevy: Australian student delegate
As COP18 started today in Doha, it became clear that this is a symbolically unique event. Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, stated in her opening address to the Conference that Qatar has an “unequalled world stage” to set the tone for a constructive set of talks that can make real progress on a number of key issues after the breakthrough discussions at COP17 in Durban.
Firstly, the Kyoto Protocol is set to expire at the end of the year, and establishing a second commitment period will be crucial. The first and only treaty for carbon emissions will need renewed ambition in order to survive.
Secondly, the fact that this is the first time a COP has been hosted by a founding member State of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), should not be ignored. COP18 places a spotlight on how oil-exporting countries operate in the negotiations and give them a chance to capitalise on their recent renewable energy investment. This is especially important, given their questionable record of cooperation on climate negations in the past.
It is also the first time the COP has been hosted by a Gulf state more broadly. Qatar worked hard to be able to host this conference, and this represents not only an opportunity for Qatar to show its growth as a nation, but for it also to be a leader for the region on climate change. As the Executive Secretary stated, there is a need to put the Gulf’s “regional energy growth on a more sustainable path”.
So far, Qatar has presented a professional and efficient face to the COP. The opening comments have highlighted the symbolism of COP18 – time will tell if countries use it to the advantage of the talks.

Luke McGreevy: Australian student delegate
As COP18 started today in Doha, it became clear that this is a symbolically unique event. Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, stated in her opening address to the Conference that Qatar has an “unequalled world stage” to set the tone for a constructive set of talks that can make real progress on a number of key issues after the breakthrough discussions at COP17 in Durban.
Firstly, the Kyoto Protocol is set to expire at the end of the year, and establishing a second commitment period will be crucial. The first and only treaty for carbon emissions will need renewed ambition in order to survive.
Secondly, the fact that this is the first time a COP has been hosted by a founding member State of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), should not be ignored. COP18 places a spotlight on how oil-exporting countries operate in the negotiations and give them a chance to capitalise on their recent renewable energy investment. This is especially important, given their questionable record of cooperation on climate negations in the past.
It is also the first time the COP has been hosted by a Gulf state more broadly. Qatar worked hard to be able to host this conference, and this represents not only an opportunity for Qatar to show its growth as a nation, but for it also to be a leader for the region on climate change. As the Executive Secretary stated, there is a need to put the Gulf’s “regional energy growth on a more sustainable path”.
So far, Qatar has presented a professional and efficient face to the COP. The opening comments have highlighted the symbolism of COP18 – time will tell if countries use it to the advantage of the talks.

Jelena Kiselova: British Council Climate Champion
My first day at COP18 began at 8 am with a UNFCCC Youth NGO Constituency (YOUNGO) meeting, where we discussed the message should be printed on YOUNGO T-shirt for the Young and Future Generations Day. The logo: “I am part of the solution – are you?’’ received the most votes and was selected. This message reflects the Youth position at this COP: at Doha, youth wants everyone – including negotiators – to be part of the solution, not the problem. We need to tackle climate change together.
The same message was seen during the COP18 Opening Ceremony. Almost every delegate stressed the need for collective action by all countries in tackling climate change. However, Tariq Al-Olaimy of the Bahrain Arab Youth Climate Movement, the only person selected to represent YOUNGO at the Opening Ceremony, stated:
“Many government delegations provided statements that did not reflect the reality of their actions over the pre-sessionals or previous COPs. There is a disconnect when civil society statements vary greatly from government statements. It would be more constructive to hear more truthful depictions of where we stand at these sessions, even if honesty is harder to hear.”
The youth was also very disappointed that YOUNGO were given only a minute to deliver their civil society statement; this is for a constituency which is supposed to represent over 1 billion people.
The best inspiration of the day was to sit side by side with Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, in the afternoon youth meeting. She was brilliant, as usual, saying that even if youth cannot affect the COP negotiations directly, indirectly we are all affecting the spirit of the event. After the event, I felt both inspired and energised to continue my mission of raising awareness and taking action to amplify the voices of youth on issues that affect all our lives.

Leave a Reply