On Monday, November 26th, discussions regarding climate change officially began in Qatar. These talks have started just one week after the World Bank released a scientific report on the effects of global warming. For the next two weeks, leaders from around the world will deliberate at the Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha, Qatar. Delegates from nearly 200 countries will be in attendance for the 18th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC and the 8th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol.
The purpose of these U.N. talks is to prevent the earth’s temperature rise from exceeding 2 degrees Celsius in comparison to pre-industrialization temperatures.
South African foreign minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, president of last year’s discussions in Durban, opened talks by saying
“We all realize why we are here, why we keep coming back year and after year. We owe it to our people, the global citizenry. We owe it to our children to give them a safer future than what they are currently facing.”
Despite continued efforts to expose problems caused from increasing global temperatures, the changes necessary to prevent air pollution have not been agreed upon. Threats from climate change can no longer be viewed as a problem for the future. We face the economic backlash and increasing environmental instability resulting from global warming in the present.
America has just experienced one of the worst droughts in its history. New England witnessed a snowless winter and a bone dry summer, followed by one of the most costly natural disasters in human civilization when hurricane Sandy obliterated the entire east coast, covering more land than almost any other Atlantic hurricane since research began. Around the world, the effects of global warming have been devastating, disrupting agriculture, polluting drinking water, increasing the spread of disease and causing the extinction of entire species. Flooding of coastal cities and island nations has almost become expected with rising sea levels.
Extreme weather patterns are becoming common and have been intensifying as carbon levels in the atmosphere continue to rise. The Kyoto Protocol agreement which was adopted back in 1997 set “binding targets for 37 industrialized nations and the European Union to slash carbon emissions to 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.” This plan is set to expire at the end of the year and part of the discussion in Qatar is to extend the Kyoto agreement into a second period. The European Union and Australia are among the supporters for a Kyoto extension, but those countries account for less than 15 percent of total global emissions. The countries responsible for releasing the largest amounts of carbon emissions refuse to be held accountable. In 2011, Russia, China and Japan all announced their refusal to abide by Kyoto regulations.
Unless a unified effort to eliminate CO2 emissions can be agreed upon, the economic collapse and deteriorating stability of the environment, seen worldwide, will only worsen.