Monday, November 26, 2012

Inconvenient meeting: the optics of talking climate policy in Qatar

Optics has never been the strength of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, currently happening for the 18th time in Doha, Qatar. Every meeting draws stories and editorial cartoons mocking climate change negotiators flying around the world, riding in huge inefficient cars, and staying in air-conditioned suites.

The meetings are, to an extent, an easy and sometimes unfair target. Most involved are genuinely trying to address the incredible challenge of forging international agreement on contentious issues like emissions targets and climate financing to the developing world. And I honestly do not doubt the sincerity of the hosts efforts to minimize greenhouse gas emissions from this year's conference, which are detailed on the web-site.

But... c'mon.

Whose idea was it to hold the climate meeting in the country with the highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita on the planet?  Qatar is not just winning the per capita GHG race, it is Usain Bolt. No other country is even close. The per capita emissions are 43% higher than the runner up (2008 data from CDIAC). Could there possibly be worse PR for a climate meeting?

I hope I am wrong, and this all turns into a positive message for change.

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