MONDAY 26 NOVEMBER
Opening Day—The first thing that the visitor notices about the Qatar National Convention Centre, the home of the Doha Climate Conference, is that it is very big. Very big—it takes time to cover the entire 40,000 square meters of exhibition space and meeting rooms over nine halls. Still very new, it has the feel that the wrappings were only recently taken off the building, which has earned a gold LEED rating for sustainability.
The main event, of course, on this opening day, was the opening session of the first climate conference ever held in the Gulf region, and featured the president of last year’s Conference in Durban, South Africa, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Climate Change Convention head Christiana Figueres, and the newly elected president from Qatar, Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, who said that the Doha meeting represented “a golden opportunity” to tackle climate change, one of the biggest challenges to face humanity.
Figueres, wearing a scarf over her head in respect to the regional culture, warned that while time was running out, this COP must help present ways that ambition can be raised with necessary urgency; and provide a future framework that will be applicable to all in a way that both ensures equity and responds to the science.
Christina Figueres opening speech (UN Photo/UNFCCC/Jan Golinski)
Initial positions—In negotiations, parties like to stake out their positions early and in some measure, that is what countries did today in Doha. Most delegations referred to the idea that the Conference was the end of one chapter and the start of another. Brazil said Doha could produce a “landmark” agreement that launches a new commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, closes the process that began in Bali five years ago, and starts the new process toward developing a new instrument to tackle climate change by 2015 that would go into effect by 2020.
But developed, emerging, and developing countries still don’t look at the world in the same way. The United States stressed that the developing countries had to do their share. Brazil said it was unfortunate that developing countries were now doing more than developed countries. And the least developed countries said the issue of finance was of paramount importance and that there must be an agreement on how to bridge the financing gap between 2012 and 2020.