Doha, Qatar — At least 200 countries are converging in oil-and-gas rich Qatar for annual global warming talks, which are scheduled to begin on Monday.
One of the more challenging goals of this year’s conference is to raise climate aid for poor countries at a time when many countries’ budgets are strained by financial problems, reports Fox News.
Tim Gore of the British charity Oxfam stated that developing countries are facing a “climate fiscal cliff,” including island nations threatened by rising sea levels. Gore stated:
“So what we need for those countries in the next two weeks are firm commitments from rich countries to keep giving money to help them to adapt to climate change.”
Rich countries have already donated almost $30 billion in grants and loans that were promised in 2009. Creating a structure to finance the fight against global warming has been one of the few tangible outcomes of the 20-year-old UN climate change talks.
They have failed in their main purpose to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide. Scientists blame these gases for melting ice caps, glaciers and permafrost. They are also responsible for warming the planet and changing weather patterns, and raising sea levels.
Al JAzeera notes that some attendees question Qatar’s ability to play a positive role in the critical negotiations, which will last for two weeks. Jamie Henn, co-founder of the environmental group 350.org, stated that the country’s role in hosting the event is ironic. Henn added:
“This is a little bit like McDonald’s hosting a conference on obesity. If anything, it shines a bit more spotlight on Qatar and on the steps that can be taken to address the problem.”
The Gulf nation currently produces almost 50 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year for each of its 1.6 million residents. The country has set some goals, like using 20 percent renewable energy by 2024, but Henn believes the host country can do much more to lead by example.
Qatar’s deputy prime minister, Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, stated that the country is committed to successful negotiations during the climate change talks. He added:
“We are fully aware of the perils the world is facing as a result of climate change. We hope the conference will produce tangible results and reinforce international cooperation.”
The Kyoto Protocol is the only binding treaty to limit harmful gas emissions. The protocol is also set to expire this year and only a few countries and the European Union seem willing to join a second commitment period with new emissions targets. The US rejected the Kyoto Protocol when it was first brought up, because it doesn’t cover rapidly growing economies like China and India.
Some are hoping that the US will make a stronger commitment and take a stronger role during the global warming talks in Doha, Qatar in the coming weeks.