By Julie McEntire, Rainforest Partnership Writer
Monday marked the beginning of the second week of the Doha Climate Conference taking place in Doha, Qatar. The conference, which began November 26th and will run through December 7th, is hoped to be a “golden opportunity” to discuss the ongoing global climate change crisis. With 200 participating nations, the conference strives to reinvigorate the promises of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol which officially ends at the end of this month. It also works to develop a new commitment period of nations to address climate change through a proposed new phase which would be termed the Durban Platform. Like the Kyoto Protocol, this agreement would aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, this time accomplishing its goals by 2020.
The first week of talks were dominated by 100 poorer nations urging the wealthier countries to take on more substantial carbon cuts in the next five years and discussions of how to divide carbon emissions rights until 2020. The most prominent division at the conference occurred between the US and China with the US insisting that China accept hard constraints for their emissions and China urging the US to take on binding carbon emissions targets. The US was also criticized by India and Brazil for lack of ambition in preventing the rise in greenhouse gases. Additional controversy arose among Russia, Canada, New Zealand and Japan, each of which issued advanced statements declaring they will not sign on to the second commitment period which would begin January 2013. If these countries, in addition to the US who never joined the Kyoto Protocol, continue to hold out, only the European Union and Australia would remain in the framework to extend the Kyoto Protocol.
With scientists warning that we are on the edge of the “climate cliff” and declaring a need for immediate action to prevent future detrimental effects, many frustrated conference attendees suggested scrapping the talks all together due to their apparent lack progress. The UN’s climate change secretary, Christina Figueres, has also described the talks as ineffectual and cited lack of public support for climate change and a call for individuals to “assume responsibility”.
While there is still a long ways to go towards establishing global awareness of this issue, some steps are being taken. To prompt public awareness of climate change, Showtime is planning to produce a six to eight episode documentary series titled Years of Living Dangerously, scheduled to air in 2013. The series will explore the human impacts of climate change. The effects of climate change will be examined and presented by James Cameron, Jerry Weintraub, Arnold Schwarzenegger, 60 Minutes producers Joel Bach andDavid Gelber, climate expert Daniel Abbasi , Matt Damon, Don Cheadle and Alec Baldwin.