Global environmental challenges
Some politicians are mentioning “Copenhagen” and “Doha” in the same breath — a worrying lament less than 2 months to go before a U.N. climate deal is meant to be wrapped up in the Danish capital.
So is there a risk – if negotiators are not smart — that the new U.N. accord to fight global warming will stall like the long-running Doha round on freeing world trade, launched in 2001?
India’s Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, for instance, said on Oct. 10 that negotiators should aim for a realistic agreement in Copenhagen from Dec. 7-18 that was not too ambitious. He said there was a risk of repeating the “mistake of the Doha round”, saying that “the basic problem of the Doha round was ‘all or nothing’.”
And British Finance Minister Alistair Darling said on Oct. 21 that he wanted to ensure that the climate talks do not keep dragging on like the Doha round.
The WWF environmental group says there’s a lack of leadership in the run-up to Copenhagen, with a rise in whispered suggestions that the talks might fail.
One week of formal climate negotiations remains before Copenhagen, in Barcelona from Nov. 2-6, after almost two years of meetings.
“The world doesn’t want Copenhagen to come to mean another Doha,” said Kim Carstensen, head of WWF’s Global Climate Initiative.
Talks on the existing Kyoto Protocol for curbing emissions, agreed in Japan in December 1997 also often looked bleak in the run-up, especially after the U.S. Senate voted that year by 95-0 against some of the basic principles of an accord.
WWF accused industrialised nations of trying to lower expectations for a deal “as they continue to dodge the hard decisions on slashing their emissions and funding the transition to a low carbon economy.”
So will Copenhagen echo Doha?
((Picture: Top: Smoke rises out of a cement plant in Baokang, Hubei province September 12, 2009. REUTERS/Stringer. Right: A Qatari security policeman guards the WTO conference centre during the 2001 conference in Doha. REUTERS/Nayef Hashlamoun))