Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Global action on climate change needed- summit

A general view shows the opening ceremony of the 18th United Nations (UN) climate change conference in Doha on November 26, 2012.  Nearly 200 world nations launched a new round of talks in Doha to review commitments to cutting climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions.

A general view shows the opening ceremony of the 18th United Nations (UN) climate change conference in Doha on November 26, 2012. Nearly 200 world nations launched a new round of talks in Doha to review commitments to cutting climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions.   AFP

By DAVE OPIYO [email protected] in Doha, Qatar

A new round of climate change talks are taking place in Doha, Qatar with governments being urged to speed up global action towards a low-emission future.

The governments have been specifically asked to focus on essential tasks ahead, deliver agreed outcomes and take further steps in the global response to the climate change problem.

United Nation's climate change official Christiana Figueres pointed delegates to key reports, which all point to the urgency to act to keep global average temperatures from rising beyond an internationally agreed level of 2 degrees Celsius, beyond which climate impacts become extremely serious.

According to analysis by the World Bank, the world remains firmly at risk of seeing temperatures rise towards 4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, creating devastating effects, if current levels of ambition to curb greenhouse gas emissions are not raised.

The World Meteorological Organisation says greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere have reached yet another record high at 390.9 parts per million, with no identified change in the upward

trend.

Widening gap

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) on the other hand warns that the gap between what is needed in terms of emission reductions to stay below 2 degrees Celsius and what is so far promised by countries is still widening, not decreasing.

However, all reports underline that the technology, the funding and the policy options to remain below the 2 degrees Celsius goal are already available, provided that governments and societies take the necessary action rapidly enough.

“Expert analysis consistently says that we do have the possibility to keep on track and that to act now is safer and much less costly than to delay. In the last three years, policy and action towards a sustainable, clean energy future has been growing faster than ever,” said Ms Figueres.

“But the door is closing fast because the pace and scale of action is simply not yet enough. So Doha must deliver its part in the longer-term solution.”

Added Ms Figueres; “Governments have said they intend to work hard to advance their decision before the high-level segment, so they can hand over a very limited set of options to ministers and close successfully at the end of next week.”

Timetable

The newly elected President of the Conference of the Parties, Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Chairman of Qatar’s Administrative Control and Transparency Authority, urged the conference to stick to agreed timetables and speedily implement already agreed decisions.

“Climate change is a common challenge for humanity. We must work in earnest for a better future for present and for future generations. We have a precious opportunity over the coming days, and we must make full use of it. Many delegates have stressed the importance of finalising work on time, and that requires that we all show flexibility,” he said.

In Doha, governments are expected to usher in a renewed commitment under the Kyoto Protocol, move the broad infrastructure of support they have been building for action in the developing world into firm implementation, and decide how to resolve policy issues that remain outstanding under the UN Climate Change Convention.

They will also decide how to stick to the task and timetable they set themselves to reach an effective, fair and ambitious universal climate agreement that is to be adopted in 2015 and to enter into force from 2020, and to raise the current inadequate global ambition to address climate change and its impacts before 2020.

In addition, countries meeting in Doha need to reach a better understanding on how to mobilise long-term finance to support action in developing nations, which they have agreed must reach a level of USD 100 billion a year by 2020.

“A faster response to climate change is necessary and possible, both in terms of the international policy response and increasing action at national and sub-national policy level and from global business. Doha must make sure the response is accelerated,” said Ms Figueres.

Also to be showcased at the talks  by the UN climate change secretariat are “lighthouse activities” public-private climate initiatives in developing countries which have already improved the lives of the urban poor, and which can inspire governments and businesses to do more.

Two further pillars of the secretariat’s Momentum for Change Initiative will also be launched – one highlighting the role of women in providing solutions to climate change, and the other drawing attention to innovative approaches to climate finance.

The first week of the meeting will pave way for the high level segment where more than 100 ministers are scheduled to attend.

The segment, to be opened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, begins on December 4 and ends with a decision-making plenary three days later.

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