New Kyoto climate deal condemned

2012-12-10 09:40
Political leaders more obsessed with short-term gains are hampering the move toward policies that will protect the environment, the WWF has said. (Boris Grdanoski, AP)

Political leaders more obsessed with short-term gains are hampering the move toward policies that will protect the environment, the WWF has said. (Boris Grdanoski, AP)

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Cape Town - Environmentalists have roundly condemned the latest deal on climate change signed in Doha on Sunday.

The UN conference passed an agreement that extended the Kyoto Protocol after much debate without the inclusion of key polluters the US, India and China.

The World Wide Fund for Nature did not mince its words and attacked the nature of the debate that saw policy makers scrambling for political points in the contentious conference.

"Some developed countries have made a mockery of the negotiations by backing away from their past commitments and refusing to take on new ones. And to make matters worse, it was only a handful of countries - such as Poland, Russia, Canada, the US and Japan - who held the negotiations to ransom," said Samantha Smith, leader of WWF's global climate and energy initiative.

There is consensus among scientists that increased carbon emissions will result in runaway climate change that could spark global devastation of more common extreme weather events.

Rising sea levels

Some are convinced that the 2°C threshold temperature increased will be missed and Earth could face an increase of up to 5° from pre-industrial times.

In 2012, the US experienced a drought and Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on the East coast. The island nation of Kiribati is already planning mass relocation of its inhabitants in the face of rising sea levels.

"Climate change is taking place before our eyes and will continue to do so," World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) chief Michel Jarraud said in a statement.

Greenpeace also weighed with condemnation of the deal which is set to be in force until 2020.

"Today we ask the politicians in Doha: Which planet are you on? Clearly not the planet where people are dying from storms, floods and droughts. Nor the planet where renewable energy is growing rapidly and increasing constraints are being placed on the use of dirty fuels such as coal.

"The talks in Doha were always going to be a modest affair, but they failed to live up to even the historically low expectations," said Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International.

The countries that have signed up for a second round of Kyoto include those from the EU and developing countries that are jointly responsible for 15% of carbon emissions.

Critical view

It is widely expected that climate change will impact on poorer countries and money pledged to a so-called Green Climate Fund to assist countries to adapt has not materialised.

Developed nations initially promised around $100bn per year by 2020 to help poor nations deal with climate change, but both the EU and the US have reneged on these commitments as the global financial crisis forces fiscal austerity.

"We want to see finance on the table as we leave here. It is part of a package that we are expecting in Doha before we are leaving here," said Pa Ousman Jarju, a negotiator for Gambia, representing the Least Developed Countries group.

"For poor communities facing more extreme and erratic weather that hits crop harvests hard, tackling climate change is a matter of putting food on the table. The outcome in Doha will only make that harder in the years ahead," said Celine Charveriat, of Oxfam International.

Local NGOs are taking a more critical view of politicians and Doha saw demonstrations similar to those around the Rio+20 summit in Brazil.

"Here in Doha, for the first time in history, people marched to demand real leadership to tackle climate change," said Tasneem Essop, head of the WWF delegation to COP 18.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

Read more on:    un  |  greenpeace  |  wwf  |  oxfam  |  climate change

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