Category Archives: Non-Monthly

Day 12 at the COP18/CMP8

288 hours to rewrite our climate legacy?

Conclusion of 288 hours?

It’s officially the last day of the UN climate talks in Qatar, where about 200 countries have spent the past fortnight working to agree the next steps to a future climate treaty to be clinched in 2015.

However, we have been hearing that a final agreement is not expected until Saturday, perhaps around noon.

To refresh my memory, I went through my notes during the Civil Society Capacity Building Workshop held in October 2012 facilitated by the Climate Action Network International Director, Wael Hmaidan, and to see where the negotiations are at now.

Here are the four key areas that officials are working to agree on:

  1. A continuation of the Kyoto protocol, the only existing legal international treaty for cutting emissions, by the EU, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Australia
  2. An end to the “twin track” negotiating process that the talks have operated under for several years – the “Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA)” and the Kyoto protocol group
  3. Principles around climate finance to see money transferred from rich to poor countries, though specific numbers are not expected
  4. Most crucially, a roadmap to a legal climate treaty to make all the countries in the talk cut emissions, to be agreed by 2015 and come into effect by 2020.

As of this writing, I am still not sure whether we, with NGO badges, can still enter the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) premises tomorrow (8 December 2012). According to a casual talk with Mr. Hmaidan, “we could still enter.” Nevertheless, there were announcements that Park n Ride and bus services to and from hotels will be extended until Sunday, 9 December 2012.

I wanted to listen to the President’s Informal Stock Taking happening at 1300 but was cancelled and moved to 1800 later today. The app on my iPhone was apparently not updated so was checking on TV screens for side events updates.

 

Sing for the Climate bracelet worn by youth activists.

Sing For the Climate

Maman, the huge steel spider occupying the central location of QNCC, apparently seems to be where a lot of civil action takes place, we were told that a flashmob is going to take place at 1230, so my fellow delegates from Qatar Sustainability Network (QSN) moved to have a “strategic” position before the flashmob commences. Well, we tried but the media were already in their places.

The flashmob protested at the lack of ambition shown by negotiators from the 194 countries present in Doha by singing a song by Sing For The Climate group based in Belgium entitled “Do It Now – Bella Ciao.” It is indeed a welcome bit of drama from the civil society. Check out the video below.

 

One Degree of Separation – Sort of

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) being interviewed by the media

There are some informal theory by Doha residents that the degree of separation is only two but being inside the QNCC premises shortens it to one or so it seems. Got a chance to be two feet away from Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) being interviewed by the media. We requested her PA for a photo op but was told to wait until her interviews are over – there were 2 more. We never had a chance as we got caught up with chatting and checking on updates with other fellow QSN delegates.

 

Qatar NGOs’ Role

As my first COP experience is coming to an end, the feeling of empowerment is overwhelming. As a delegate for SustainableQatar for this important conference I was able to wear my activist hat. As the only Filipino delegate as well, under the Qatar-based NGO umbrella, QSN, it is a consuming privilege to be on board and witness the steps being taken by the host country.

Rich Qatar, together with other developed countries, being pressured to come up with ways to help developing countries cope with climate change, through its young and new NGO delegation, is a  proof, albeit indirectly, that the country is working on it, and ultimately, towards a just and equitable outcome to COP18 and a sustainable Qatar and planet.

Click on the photos for a slideshow.

 

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Day 11 at the COP18/CMP8

Liz Gallagher of E3G, Steve Herz of Sierra Club (2nd to the right) and Wael Hmaidan of CAN International (right)

I was early today at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) to catch up with fellow delegates as well as to listen to Climate Action Network (CAN) International’s Press Briefing on Non-Governmental Response to Negotiations. Another way to get a summary and impressions on the negotiations aside from the Stock Taking Plenary (happening tonight at 1800 chaired by the COP18 President, H.E. Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah) and hear it from dedicated NGOs through CAN who currently have an Arab (Lebanon) as its Director.

Liz Gallagher, senior policy from E3G, started “it’s fairly usual at this point of the COP for things to be a little chaotic. We are coming to a tipping point, nobody is driving the process and nobody is leading.” Even fears a “zombie outcome” for the Doha climate talks. The Long-term Cooperative Act (LCA) was described as a “mess and been taken hostage by the U.S., particularly on finance.”

As Steve Herz from the Sierra Club stressed that the US is blocking the negotiations in the long-term finance work program. Furthermore, “the LCA is closing that’s been where the main finance conversation have been taking place about scaling up assistance to developing countries for mitigation and adaptation….so there are a number of issues that need to be resolved to move forward toward a new regime.”

Wael Hmaidan, CAN International Director, noted that “the Arab leadership has failed us so far,” however, with two full days more in the negotiations, they are optimistic for pledges, bring spirits up, and help raise the ambition gap.

 

In Wake of Bopha

A photo grabbed from a video clip of emotional Saño.

Yesterday, an intense and uncharacteristic typhoon slammed into an island Mindanao, south of the Philippines, but still not sure as of this writing on the damage it has put again to my highly vulnerable country. I missed the plenary, nevertheless, able to watch it online and saw a senior diplomat breaks down in public. Was it a signal that other countries must pay attention? It happens rarely, but can it have a dramatic effect?

Naderev “Yeb” Saño, the lead negotiator for the Philippines delegation in Doha and the commissioner of the Philippines Climate Change Commission concluded his emotional plea:

“I appeal to all, please, no more delays, no more excuses. Please, let Doha be remembered as the place where we found the political will to turn things around.

Please, let 2012 be remembered as the year the world found the courage to find the will to take responsibility for the future we want.

I ask of all of us here, if not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?”

 

Optimism is the Drive

Still a day or two towards the closing of this conference and having a roller coaster ride with my emotions – high, down, sideways – maybe due to my first ever COP, upcoming Christmas holidays with my family, Qatar Sustainability Network and SustainableQatar, whatever it is, I am optimistic that these climate talks will yield to the results we all want to achieve for the current and especially for the coming generations.

And, yes, I believe that Qatar will do its best to be remembered as the conference where it demonstrated a lead role in climate negotiations. They. Just. Will….and that is exactly why we (SustainableQatar and QSN) are here, too!

 

NB: For those of who cannot enter the QNCC premises but wish to watch open sessions, visit the UNFCCC site.

Day 9 at the COP18/CMP8

 

Today, world leaders call for urgent global action at the opening of the High Level Segment of the conference. Of course, I was not there but on the way to the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC), I figured that there will be VVIP/VIP are in the conference premises as the main road leading to QNCC was blocked and motorists were waved to take an alternate route. Took me half an hour to reach Gate 2 for the Park n Ride.

 I headed to Hall 4 to meet another delegate to catch up and bumped into Soham Baba. I missed his presentation but felt fortunate to have a photo op with him. I think this is the highest level I could get for the day.

Went to the bloggers area and enjoyed the free high-speed wifi and checked out the tweets and updates on the high level ceremony.

Fortunately, the COP18/CMP8 website provides free to use photos to be downloaded and shared.

Ban Ki-Moon and Christiana Figueress attending Momentum for Change.
Photo courtesy of Penny Yi Wang through Flickr.

 

Check out more photos on Flickr!

In an online report, it said that the Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon said even though he had no means to compel member states to meet commitments, he would “morally” compel them, in particular developed countries to meet the commitment.

 

Day 8 at the COP18/CMP8

Of badges and colors

When it was announced that we could collect our badges for the COP18 at Sheraton Hotel a week before the conference, I was in the airport heading to Muscat. So I was really curious of how the badge would look like and since it is my first COP ever I was excited to get hold of them. Our president even kid that I could only claim it by then – so imagine, my “desire” to see and have them!

In the bus to the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) today, I was looking at those badges in different colors worn by those who could enter the conference building. There were grey, pink, green, blue, orange and yellow. Mine was yellow that represents non-government organizations (NGOs). Pink are for the delegate of country negotiation group, orange for the press/media, green for scientists and experts, and grey/blue are the technical staff.

Within an hour in the QNCC I was lucky to meet some nice folks and took a photo of their badges.

 

Gray for the technical staff who made sure that the conference is running smoothly, from setting up audio and visual systems, information, location of hall guides, etc.

 

Yellow badges belong to NGOs, we don’t belong to the decision-making process but allowed to observe the negotiations – quietly!

 

Side Event: President’s Stock Taking Plenary

When I first walked into the Qatar National Convention Center(QNCC) I had a picture in my mind on how the conference would be. I imagined delegates in suits and laptops bags speeding around, chatting with their colleagues, press/media folks conducting interviews left and right. I envisioned a lucid and taut atmosphere. This image quickly dissolved as I experienced the conference and looked for the hall where the Stock Taking Plenary is going to be held. With the overwhelming side events happening simultaneously, it was really cool to have the COP18/CMP8 app on my phone to be updated on what is happening and where.

I chose to listen to the stock taking plenary chaired by the COP18 President Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah and Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), it would be a great summary of what I missed in the first week of the conference.

“Will it turn into fireworks,” I asked to myself and got lost in between when acronyms were used. Nevertheless, it seems that there will be a second Commitment Period under the Kyoto Protocol. This is good. It was stressed by several countries that “we should not lose the progress in Kyoto.”

Bolivia expressed concern and said “some parties [countries] are more in the means and not the goals.”

Venezuela indicated “to make decisions now” and “there is no need to revisit commitments but to do them and commit.”

Bangladesh, a vulnerable country, raised ” we need more ambitions and be more courageous.”

Nicaragua argued, “we need a goal and not commitment…the two degree target is practically lost.” They called for avoiding a “lost decade for climate finance,” noting the lack of a road map to achieve the 2020 goal for finance.

Nauru said that finance was the missing element in Durban and it should not be a “take it or leave it text” and concerned about the extremely slow progress.

COP President Al-Attiyah urged parties to continue their efforts to find solutions to the various issues, so as to complete work by Friday. He confirmed that stock taking will be a regular exercise and hoping that interventions (country statements) will be limited to 3 minutes. The next stock taking is slated on December 5, 2012.

 

 

 

Kyoto Protocol in my head

Driving home, I was happy to experience the live action which I learned in grad school. Fulfilling, indeed.

With all these and coming from a non-Annex 1 country  who are seriously affected and suffering with climate change, I have to be optimistic that even with our (developing countries) moral arguments we could take effective action. Insha Allah!

 

 

Day 8: At the Doha Exhibition Center

Today I explored the Qatar Sustainability EXPO at the Doha Exhibition Center (DEC).

The most striking exhibit was the “Suicide Penguin” by Taiwanese eco-artist Vincent J.F Huang. He represents the voice of the animal in the climate change negotiations who can not defend themselves. And, ironically, one of the smallest countries and the world and the least CO2 emitters, will be one of the first ‘victims’ of climate change.

There were also Qatari grown vegetables on display. I frequently buy my winter vegetables direct at the Arabic Qatari Agricultural Production Company for years and can confirm that Qatari grown food tastes great.

There was a also small booth chuck full of bold innovations. Dr. Isam Sidiq, of The Forgotten Food, turned traditional knowledge into food innovations that are more complicated to understand but with a massive potential. Sap, sustainable harvested from two special types of the Acacia tree family, is turned into a prebiotic drinking powder, similar to cool-aide, that supplies food for the good bacteria to maintain a healthy body. His motto is “Prevention with PreBiotic is better than Cure with Anti Biotic”. In the same booth, Ibrahim Alalim told me about his invention of Polykem, a polymer based soil amendment that will retain water and boost growth by an incredible rate. A third inventor, Khaled Al Dhyaei presented his ideas about replacing plastic seating (ie in stadiums) with 100% natural materials. All worth checking into.

Noor Al-Thani and Khalid with Doha Oasis were on hand to answer any inquiries about local civil society and environmental engagement and education.

The most contradicting of the day was the Saudi stand: “Managing emissions for all the right reasons” displayed the longest SUV I have seen to date. But I did my part to peddle away some emissions while creating artwork instead at the EcoQ booth.

The Hybrid Eco-car and some electric cars were also on display. The Qatari cultural performance was a welcome closing to a busy and bustling day day at the Qatar Sustainability Expo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Doha Climate March

This post is from SustainableQatar’s members and UNFCCC registered observers, Paige Tantillo, Kafia Abdulla and Mike Tantillo.

 

We started our day bright and early and headed to the Climate March!

 

Khalid from Doha Oasis did a tremendous job rallying the crowd.

 

It was fantastic to see everyone marching together in support of climate change action!

 

Next, we headed to the Doha Exhibition Center to participate in the Qatar Sustainability Network Booth.

 

Several children participated in our Seed Saving and Planting Workshop and LOVED every minute of playing in the soil and learning to plant seeds!

 

Another highlight of the booth was the Recycling Area. Kids were jumping in the bins, digging out cans to put into the machine and get their recycling credit receipt! Yeah for Recycling!

 

 

Day 5 at COP18/CMP8

The Qatar National Convention Center was very busy today, Friday. I discovered flexible and innovative and comfortable furnitures – made of cardboard. They were popular and in heavy use. Check out all the pictures.

 

COP18/CMP8 President, His Excellency Mr. Abdullah Al-Attiyah had invited to an Open Dialog with Civil Society. The 1 1/2 hour dialog was the longest with Civil Society to be held at a COP conference. The president spoke from his heart when he pledged to strengthen relationships with NGOs. His expectations of the conference are to deliver a successful conference, the first COP in the Middle East, that delivers direct results for the public.

 

The environmental NGOs acknowledged and recognized that Qatar has shown great courage to host COP18 but also expressed the hope that Qatar will make a pledge toward emission reductions. The president mentioned that a national plan and strategy is already under way to produce desalinated water with renewables by end of 2013 with a longer-term plan to be delivered then. He said that Qatar needs to facilitate a marriage between the energy sector and the environment but acknowledged that a marriage can not be forced. Qatar is an energy country. Energy is Qatar’s resource. It’s a gift  of god and we need to protect this country to live in this country. Nobody wants to go back to 1950s when there were no public schools in Qatar and 30% of women died in child labor.

 

There was great enthusiasm to the question about traditional knowledge by the indigenous people NGOs. Traditional knowledge lives with us and is not something of the past. Some problems of today exist because we did not take wisdom from the past and applied it. Traditional knowledge was cascaded from generation to generation, has served communities, and must be considered for future as well.

 

Some top negotiators have expressed great concern over the lack of urgency to combat climate change and suggested that it is often small countries that are most innovative and move quickly to overcome hurdles. What is Qatar’s COP18 Legacy plan? HE Al-Attiyah responded that Qatar has already shown ways to move fast as the only country with a woman president of a major university (referring to Dr. Sheikha Abdulla Al-Misnad, President of Qatar University) but made no further promises.

 

I dared to ask whether the beautiful recycling bins and smooth bus transportation system can be put to use in Qatar post COP18. His staff later confirmed that a nation wide recycling program was launched in Qatar with the installation of bins in front of the Ministry of Environment and will be expanded on at major drop of points shortly. Fingers crossed.

 

Regarding private public partnerships, he mentioned that an independent power purchase program is in consideration to feed energy from renewable sources into the grid but also acknowledged that there is great potential when the current level of uncertainty can be overcome.

 

Next, I went to a discussion on the Role of Bamboo and Rattan for Carbon Sequestration. Bamboo, the fastest growing plant (1m/day up to 40m in 2 months), produces biomass and is of interest for carbon sequestration at comparable levels to other forests. There are 25-50 Mill hectare of bamboo forests worldwide (Asia, Africa and South America) with over 1,200 species. Bamboo regrows after it is cut every 5 years and used as timber in building and construction industry, supporting a wide bamboo industry. China Green Carbon Fund offers carbon credits.

 

One week into the conference, I am really excited to be part of it and about the potential for immediate impact in Qatar. There is will and sincerity. However, after all the meetings and little sleep I feel a bit cross-eyed. DOHA2012 – UN Climate Change Conference morphed into DOHA2012 – ULTIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE when I passed by the display screens tonight…. perhaps that’s where SustainableQatar and Qatar Sustainability Network come in, helping to make COP18 the ‘ultimate change’ conference. Our constituency is ready.
Helpful local staff.

 

COP18/CMP8 President, His Excellency Mr. Abdullah Al-Attiyah with two members of the Indigenous People NGOs.

 

Check it out – cardboard furniture – very cool. I could not get enough!

 

 

 

Some exhibitors were so worried about ‘losing’ their displays that they tied it all up ….

 

 

Noor Al-Thani, Doha Oasis and Nadia Amar Aboul Hosn of QEERI and both members of Qatar Sustainability Network, after the COP18 President’s Open Dialog with Civil Society

 

 

Day 3 at COP18/CMP8

It is refreshing to see the amount of Qatari’s participating in COP18 at the QNCC with such great interest and reporting about it. Really reassuring.
I arrived at the conference at 7 pm today, and briefly peaked into two panel discussions:
“Green Economy and global climate change risks: Challenges and Opportunities” which discussed green economy as the pathway to sustainability and the overlooked risks in developing countries because of the lack of sciences and technology capacity from the perspective of China’s experience. The graph below shows the relationship and direct link between GDP growth and carbon emission increase. Data are displayed from Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) and include carbon emissions of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
“IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation” – the panel discussion debated the cost of technology and concluded that the future cost and performance improvements of renewable energy and other mitigation options will remain unknown… don’t say!
Other discoveries and observations:
– The Eco Store has some pretty funky eco gadgets, including several solar powered chargers.
– The design of the Information Stand is fun and innovative. It proudly states: “This Pod is going to be recycled post event”. It looked as if it was made from recycled packing pallets but smelled of freshly cut wood. A bit of a let down, but great idea. Next time!
What stuck me today as amazing was how orderly transportation arrangements functions. There were lots of dedicated local volunteers to assist in the effort. It was heartwarming to watch how the rest of the world seems to contently stand in line to board a bus. Beautiful! The bus service may be another building block for a successful COP18 Legacy here in Doha. Hopefully these busses will be kept in operation to serve the Qatar community to further reduce transportation related carbon emissions more permanently.
In contrast, the hot, smelly and carbon emitting diesel generated flood lights around the bus parking offer opportunities for improvements. Perhaps renewables?