COP18: Qatar emissions pledge could soothe climate talks tension

By John Parnell
RTCC in Doha

The tension and anxiety of the early days of the UN climate change negotiations in Doha could be eased if the hosts made a pledge to reduce emissions, according to Wael Hmaidan, director of the Climate Action Network International.

Qatar is not only the host, but also holds the Presidency of the COP18 talks, giving it power over how the negotiations proceed.

However, with no history of strong environmental commitments and no pledge made through the UN to cuts its own emissions, Hmaidan said the talks are suffering, with delegates unsure of Qatar’s motives.

COP18’s President Al Attiyah would have an easier job to do if Qatar made a pledge to reduce its emissions, according to CAN International.

“If Qatar puts a pledge forward it could transform the whole mood and help Qatar do its job as President. We want a successful COP, we need a successful COP and we believe putting a pledge forward can help them in achieving that,” Hmaidan told RTCC.

CAN and other groups are also concerned with their input to the negotiations with interventions from NGO groups during the talks limited to just 30 seconds. Hmaidan since this is just symbolic of a wider problem in Doha.

“The concern we have is that there is not a lot of transparency from the Presidency about what their strategy is. We feel we have a lot to add, but this lack of clarity on where the talks are going makes us fear there will be no process to contribute what we want.

“The summit will not work if they continue like this. Talking to every country and Party to the talks, there is a lot of anxiety. They don’t know where the President wants to go and they don’t even know where Qatar stands on climate change,” said Hmaidan.

The Qatari deputy prime minister, Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah was elected as the President of the talks during today’s opening session.

Al Attiyah has drawn criticism for his links to the fossil fuel industry. In the build-up to the talks he also praised shale gas, a source of controversy among many environmentalists, and has pushed gas powered electricity as a long term emissions reduction strategy.

Qatar is also one of the largest gas producers in the world, and has the highest per capita emissions.

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