‘Still time to act’ as Doha climate talks kick off

The UN climate change negotiations began today in the capital of Quatar amid fears from green campaigners that they are unlikely to deliver significantly on any issues.

According to Friends of the Earth’s international climate change campaigner Asad Rehman, although there is little hope that much can be achieved during the two week negotiation, it could still act as a real platform for change.

“There’s still time to act. We have the know-how to tackle climate change – all that’s lacking is the political will.

“Building a low-carbon future will end our dependency on increasingly expensive fossil fuels, create millions of new jobs and reduce the quantity of climate-changing gases being pumped into the atmosphere,” he said.

Despite the lack of a 2030 decarbonisation target in the upcoming Energy Bill, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey, who will attend the negotiations next week, maintained that the UK was heading in the right direction.

“Here in the UK we are driving forward our plans to move to a lower-carbon energy mix, and this week we will be publishing the Energy Bill which will enable this,” he said.

He added: “I also want to see progress at Doha on achieving the global deal that all countries agreed to work towards in Durban last year. For the first time all countries agreed to sign up to a legally-binding deal to be adopted by 2015, and at Doha we need to agree a plan for these crucial negotiations.”

According to Rehman, EU targets do not go far enough.

“EU credibility is on the line – its current proposals are completely inadequate and would allow European nations to emit more pollution, not less,” he said.

However, Davey believes that although the EU must go further, it is playing an important part.

Davey said: “The EU has led the way in calling for more ambition and in enshrining emissions reductions in law. I want to encourage it to move to a more ambitious 2020 emissions reduction target of 30%.”

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) agrees with Friends of the Earth that the low expectations of the negotiations could be proven wrong.

WWF’s head of delegation Tasneem Essop said: “Governments of the world still have a chance to come to Doha and make something happen.”

“The block now is that there is lack of trust. Developed countries have made commitments – even low levels of commitment at that – and some haven’t delivered. At the same time, developing countries are being pressured to take more actions, but without the committed finance to implement these actions.

“The global effort has to be a fair, shared effort if we are to get anywhere near the level of trust required to make progress. In our view, this can make or break progress towards finalising a new global agreement by 2015.”

Conor McGlone

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