More than 17,000 people are in Doha, Qatar, for the 18th United Nations conference on climate change, officially known as the Conference of the Parties, or COP18.
In case, you don’t know where Qatar is, here’s a map. Basically, Qatar is on a small peninsula on the east coast of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf. Doha is its capital. It has one of the world’s highest gross domestic product and carbon emissions per capita.
The decisions and commitments made, or not made, at this conference could be critical. The Kyoto Protocol of 1992 expires at the end of the year, and the goal for COP18 is to at least have a framework for having a follow-up agreement in place by 2017.
Meeting the 2017 deadline could be a scientific as well as political necessity. As noted in the recent 2012 World Energy Outlook from the International Energy Agency, the rate of growth of carbon emissions is fast approaching the point of no return for irreversible and possibly radical climate change:
“Almost four-fifths of the CO2 emissions allowable by 2035 are already locked-in by existing power plants, factories, buildings, etc. If action to reduce CO2 emissions is not taken by 2017, all the allowable CO2 emissions would be locked-in by energy infrastructure existing at that time. Rapid deployment of energy-efficient technologies … would postpone this complete lock-in to 2022, buying time to secure a much needed global agreement to cut greenhouse-gas emissions.”
The conference is being heavily covered online, first, on its own website, www.cop18.qa, which has a link to the conference YouTube station as well. Searching for COP18 on YouTube will also bring up relevant videos.
The Twitter hash tag for the conference is #COP18, and already producing a steady stream of tweets, which will likely accelerate as the event progresses.
The Arab news service, Aljazeera, looks to be providing extensive coverage. Check out its nifty infographic charting the politics of climate change, the world’s biggest emitters and the negotiating positions of some of the major players.
The conference runs through Dec. 7. Whether it will produce the kind of results needed to push back the pont of no return remains to be seen.