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DOHA - The latest UN climate change conference opened Monday in Doha, Qatar, where developing countries called for more commitment and actions by the developed world to tackle the challenges of a warming globe.
At the beginning of the opening ceremony, president of the last conference Maite Nkoana-Mashabane from South Africa announced that the conference presidency was handed over to Abdullah bin Hamad Al- Attiyah, chairman of Qatar's Administrative Control and Transparency Authority.
Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, President of the (COP18) at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) speaks in Doha Nov 26, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]
Attiyah said in a speech that climate change is confronting all human beings and effective actions need to be taken to cope with it. He added that the ongoing two-week conference is a precious opportunity for every participant to advance their efforts in salvaging the warming globe.
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said at the conference that negotiators will try to complete some of the work that was initiated in past Conference of Parties (COPs), especially the progress started in Bali.
The UN climate chief also said the talks here will work out detailed arrangements of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, a legally binding accord requiring industrialized countries to cut their carbon emissions.
Apart from issues relating to the extension of the Kyoto Protocol, planning the work under the Durban Platform (a new negotiating mechanism) and charting the way forward on long-term climate finance are high on the agenda as well.
Figueres called for the participants' attention to the financial and technical support that the developing countries urgently need to bolster their anti-warming efforts, and said that improvement can be done in this area in Doha.
Days before the conference began, Figueres said in Bonn of Germany, where the office of the UNFCCC is based, that the Doha conference must deliver its objectives to speed up global action towards a low-emission future where everyone has the chance of a sustainable life.
At the conference, deputy chief of the Chinese delegation Su Wei expressed the stance of the BASIC nations, namely China, India, Brazil and South Africa, on stemming climate change.
"Climate change is a cross-cutting challenge that undermines the ability of developing countries to achieve sustainable development," he said.
"The international community needs to strengthen the current multilateral rules-based climate regime and take concrete actions in accordance with all the principles and provisions of the Convention," Su added.
He stressed that concerned parties should protect the climate system on the basis of equity and in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.
EU representative at the conference reiterated the bloc's compliance to the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol despite the grave economic environment, while stressing its financial support to the poor countries in their fight against the climate change.
The bloc, which prides itself on its leading role in anti- warming efforts, claimed it has contributed $9.3 billion dollars to the Fast Start Finance, though details of the donation are not given.
It also pledged to deliver its share of the annual aid of $100 billion dollars promised by developed countries by 2020, but the program, called Green Climate Fund, remains largely an empty shell.
The Naurun representative, on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, said his fellow countries, which are most vulnerable to the climate change, are in urgent need of help from the developed countries to combat the warming weather.
"A month ago, hurricane Sandy hit America and caused great casualties and damages. Small island countries experience disastrous weather events more and more frequently," the Naurun representative said, urging the establishment of a mechanism to deal with the loss inflicted by extreme weather events upon human beings so as to ensure a healthy living environment for future generations.
The Gambian representative, on behalf of the group of the least developed countries, said extreme weather events including flooding and hurricanes have claimed the lives of 1.3 million people in Gambia since 1980, urging the rich countries to hear the voice of his fellow countries and take drastic actions to address the warming climate.
The Doha conference came amid a raft of warnings that efforts to cap the temperate rise may fail if deeper cuts of carbon emissions are not made in time.
Ahead of the talks, a report by the UN Environment Program warned that levels of greenhouse gas emissions are now 14 percent above where they need to be in 2020 if the target of capping the temperature rise below 2 degrees is to be made.
Therefore, negotiations in Doha are faced with the daunting task of persuading participants to make greater commitment to carbon emission cuts, particularly the rich countries that are responsible for 80 percent of the existing greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.
As the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period is set to expire at the end of this year, whether the rich countries at the Doha conference can pledge deeper cuts for the second term -- agreed upon in Durban last year -- is key to curbing the temperature rise.