COP 18 opens in Doha, ECA gears up to support Africa’s participation


ECA Press Release 203/2012

Doha, Qatar, 26 November 2012 (ECA) - The 18th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 18) and the eighth meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 8) opened at the Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC) this morning as participants, in their hundreds, continued to arrive for the two-week long parley.

The United Nations-sponsored conference will run from November 26 to December 7, during which time delegations from developed and developing countries will negotiate a new global deal on climate, according to the Information and Communication Service of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) covering the meetings.

MaiteNkoana-Mashabane, South African foreign minister, officially handed over the COP presidency to Abdullah Bin Hamad al-Attiyah, Qatar's deputy prime minister and the conference's president, at a brief opening ceremony.

Ms. Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, pointed out the "unique" location of this year's COP, saying "each COP is unique - and this is no exception," she said.

"This is the first time the COP is being held in the Gulf region. On this historic occasion, the Gulf region has an unequaled world stage to showcase the contributions being made to reduce the Gulf's food and water vulnerabilities, to put regional energy growth on a more sustainable path and to build a safer, stronger and more resilient energy future for all countries."

Environmental activists have questioned Qatar’s environmental record as one of the world’s leading contributors to greenhouse gases because, according to them, it produces nearly 50 tonnes a year of carbon dioxide for each of its 1.6 million residents.

They also wonder if Qatar has the political will to play a positive role in the critical two-week negotiations. Qatar "is also one of the 10 developing countries predicted to be most affected by rising sea levels", Attiyah, who is also a former Qatari petroleum minister, said.

But he assured negotiators that he will chair the negotiations in an open, transparent and inclusive manner.

Perennial and ongoing tensions between developed and developing countries are likely to dominate the Doha conference,  as  differences were reported to have surfacedover financing for adaptation, emission cuts and the issue of "hot air" carbon permits during the pre-conference preparations.

Experts say the term "hot air" refers to attempts by some wealthy countries to carry over unused carbon permits so they can be offset against future cuts”.

Some 30 African ministers are expected to come to Doha to help push the African agenda at the talks. A meeting of the Committee of African Heads of State on Climate Change is also scheduled towards the end of the negotiations.

In a statement made on behalf of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), The Gambia said since 1980, droughts, extreme temperatures, floods, and hurricanes have caused an estimated 1.3 million deaths.

Two-thirds of these deaths – over 909,000 – occurred in the LDCs, the statement reads.

It quotes the International Energy Agency’s “World Energy Outlook” of 2012 which shows that Global energy-related CO2 emissions increased by 3.2% in 2011 to reach a record 31.2 GtCO2. Coal has met nearly half the rise in global energy demand in the last decade, growing faster than renewables. 

This year’s UNEP Gap Report estimated a 2020 Emissions Gap larger by 2 GtCO2e compared to last year’s Gap estimate, it states.

The Least Developed Countries constitute only 12 per cent of the world’s population, but suffer the effects of climate-related disasters over five times as much as the world as a whole.

More than 100 ministers are expected to attend the high-level segment of the meeting which begins on 4 December and ends with a decision-making plenary on 7 December.

The conference is being attended by government delegates, representatives from business and industry, environmental organizations and research institutions.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected in Doha.

ECA is the leading UN agency engaged in the economic development of Africa and countries of the region look up to it for technical assistance to buttress their negotiating positions on climate change and sustainable development issues as a whole.

ECA’s ACPC which is the main Africa-based organisation that provides technical support in a continuous manner to the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) has sent experts to the AGN preparatory and coordination meetings in Doha to assist with background research and drafting work as the negotiations proceed.

Issued by:

ECA Information and Communication Service
P.O. Box 3001
Addis Ababa Ethiopia

Tel: 251 11 5445098 Fax: +251-11-551 03 65

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© 2012 Economic Commission for Africa