WEDNESDAY 5 DECEMBER
Toward a Doha deal—On one level of the sprawling conference center here in Doha, ministers are delivering speeches to a relatively sparse audience. On another level, the negotiating rooms are packed, overflowing with NGOs camped out on the floor. Everyone is complaining about the slow pace of progress. There are youth demonstrations. There are rumors of some blocks of countries walking. Everyone is positioning themselves for the endgame, a delicate dance in the negotiations, which has to tie up a number of elements, such as getting the new commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol up and running, closing business from the Bali Roadmap, and moving forward toward a new global, legally binding agreement that would be reached in 2015.
When good night doesn’t quite mean good night—There was a special “stock-taking” session here tonight where the chairs of the various negotiating groups reported on their progress and on issues still outstanding. There are still many unresolved issues. At the end of the session, Conference President Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah thanked the delegates and bid them good night. A moment later, he corrected himself: “Good night doesn’t mean go to sleep! No. Go and work and bring a good result!”
Qatar to host new climate research center—Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, wife of His Highness the Emir of Qatar, launched a new agreement between Qatar and the renowned German Potsdam Institute for Climate Research to set up a subsidiary in Doha that will be staffed by up to 200 scientists. The new “Climate Change Institute and Global Climate Forum,” according to Potsdam Institute Professor Joachim Schellnhuber, would be more than just a research arm or think tank, but we try to convey there findings, based on science, to the world. He noted that climate change had significant importance for Qatar: the summer temperatures here already regularly reach 45° C, and that to add another 5° C “would mean that the nation of Qatar would cease to exist.” He also said that “2015 would be the “end game” for climate policy.”
World Bank charts climate risks in Arab world—Climate change is happening in Arab countries according to a new World Bank report, and will have major impacts on water, agricultural production, urban growth, tourism, and human health. The Arab region has the lowest freshwater resource endowment in the world and all but six Arab countries suffer from water scarcity. Currently, the region suffers a water deficit, where demand is greater than supply, and with increasing populations and per capita water use, demand is projected to increase further, by 60 percent, by 2045. Sea-level rise threatens coastal cities such as Alexandria, while floods and droughts threaten other parts o the region. Bank Vice-President said climate change could roll back prosperity and put more people in poverty. Still, she said, policy changes could avert the worst consequences.
2014 Climate Summit in New York—There is a general consensus by scientists that climate change is real, is happening, and is caused in good part by human activity. There is consensus in Doha among participants at the Climate Conference that there is a shortage of political will and ambition. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon plans to change that by convening world leaders in 2014 to mobilize the political will for a final agreement in 2015. He told a ministerial roundtable that “I believe the inventions, and the innovation that we need to create the future we want, already exist or are in the minds of the leaders of tomorrow. What we need is leadership. As we look forward, I will be engaging the world’s leaders and working with them – individually and collectively – to make the big decisions we need.”