Talks on new climate pact start in Qatar

Attempts to create a new climate treaty failed in Copenhagen three years ago

Talks on a new climate pact have started in oil and gas-rich Qatar, where nearly 200 countries will discuss fighting global warming and helping poor nations adapt to it.

The 20-year-old series of conferences has not fulfilled its main purpose of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that some scientists say are warming the planet.

Attempts to create a new climate treaty failed in Copenhagen three years ago but countries agreed last year to try again, giving themselves a deadline of 2015 to adopt a new treaty.

Several issues need to be resolved by then, including how to spread the burden of emissions cuts between rich and poor countries. That is unlikely to be decided in the Qatari capital of Doha, where negotiators will focus on extending the Kyoto Protocol, an emissions deal for industrialised countries, and trying to raise billions of pounds to help developing countries adapt to a shifting climate.

"We owe it to our people, the global citizenry. We owe it to our children to give them a safer future than what they are currently facing," said South African foreign minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who led last year's talks in Durban.

The UN process is often criticised, even ridiculed, both by climate activists who say the talks are too slow, and by those who challenge the view that the global temperature rise is at least partly caused by human activity, primarily the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil.

Environmentalists found the choice of Qatar as host of the two-week conference ironic. The tiny Persian Gulf emirate owes its wealth to large resources of gas and oil and emits more greenhouse gases per capita than any other nation.

Yet it has not announced any climate action, and former Qatari oil minister Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah did not do so when he opened the conference.

"We should not concentrate on the per capita (emissions), we should concentrate on the amount from each country. I think Qatar is the right place to host" the conference, he said.

The concentration of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide has jumped 20% since 2000, according to a report released last week.

The goal of the talks is to keep the global temperature rise under 2C compared to pre-industrial times.

But efforts taken so far to rein in emissions, reduce deforestation and promote clean technology are not working. A recent projection by the World Bank showed temperatures are expected to increase by up to 4C by 2100.

"Climate change is no longer some distant threat for the future, but is with us today," said a Greenpeace spokesman. "At the end of a year that has seen the impacts of climate change devastate homes and families around the world, the need for action is obvious and urgent."

Scientists also say that extreme weather events such as Hurricane Sandy's onslaught on the US will become more frequent as the Earth warms, although it is impossible to attribute any individual event to climate change.

The Kyoto Protocol, adopted in 1997, is the most important climate agreement reached in the U.N. process so far. It expires this year, so negotiators in Doha will try to extend it as a stopgap measure until a wider deal can be reached.

The problem is that only the European Union and a handful of other countries - that together are behind less than 15% of global emissions - are willing to put down emissions targets for a second commitment period of Kyoto.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Sport
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower