It is immensely difficult to be positive in regards global climate initiatives – especially if you are a scientist. The reality is that much like the infighting and indecisiveness of nations in the eurozone, trying to climb out of their collective fiscal grave, the complexities of ratifying global protocols for reducing carbon emissions is a massive undertaking. The recent UN climate talks in Doha consisted of the usual theatre – demonstrators outside, glum-looking politicians inside, and the dour intonations of a wheezing BBC broadcaster in your ear, proclaiming doom.
And of course it all boils down to money. The biggest polluters are the U.S. and China, but many developing countries have had a difficult time getting on board with Kyoto in the past because they feel unfairly compensated by those with money – this is a global effort, after all. What the current talks did yield is a new ‘Loss and Damage’ protocol aimed at wealthier nations compensating poorer ones for environmental fallout from rising temperatures; many island nations in the South Pacific are at least slightly comforted by this turn of events. And this is another confirmation that countries are looking at the problem holistically.
There is a huge rift, depending on whom you talked to, as to whether this session in Doha yielded anything approaching progress. The pendulum swings from optimistic: “It is a breakthrough,” said Martin Khor of the South Centre – an association of 52 developing nations. The term Loss and Damage is in the text – this is a huge step in principle. Next comes the fight for cash,” (from the BBC) to the reality that these steps are for damages, not prevention. And Eastern European states like Poland, Russia and Ukraine were responsible for almost ruining any kind of headway, with Poland demanding the right to burn its huge reserves of coal.
So, what can we make of the Doha conference? Some advances were made, but the metaphorical teacher has clearly written ‘must try harder,’ on the student’s essay.