The United Nations climate change conference concluded on Saturday, a day after the talks were slated to end, addressing only a fraction of global greenhouse gases, in what is seen by climate activists as "betrayal" of the people and a commitment to add fuel to a planet already on fire.
The agreement decided in Doha, Qatar extends the 1997 Kyoto Protocol until 2020 in a second commitment period, but falls short of addressing the bulk of the greenhouse gas emissions. Agence France-Presse reports:
An extension of Kyoto was finally approved with the 27-member European Union, Australia, Switzerland and eight other industrialised nations signing up for binding emission cuts by 2020.
They represent about 15 percent of global emissions.
The protocol locks in only developed nations, excluding major developing polluters such as China and India, as well as the United States which refuses to ratify it.
Oxfam International Director of Campaigns and Advocacy Celine Charveriat said of the agreement: “Once again governments have done far too little to drive down dangerous greenhouse gas emissions any time soon. The planet is on fire, but our governments are trying to extinguish the flames with watering cans.”
"This is not where we wanted to be at the end of the meeting, I assure you," added Nauru Foreign Minister Kieren Keke, leader of an alliance of small island states. "It certainly isn't where we need to be in order to prevent islands from going under and other unimaginable impacts."
Climate activists noted the particularly negative role the US played.
"The blame lies squarely with the rich industrialised world, most notably the US. The Obama administration is succeeding in its efforts to dismantle the UN global climate regime and other wealthy nations have joined in, paralyzing the climate talks and forcing the world’s poor to pay the price," said Asad Rehman, Friends of the Earth International spokesperson in Qatar.
Greenpeace International's Kumi Naidoo added a scathing statement on the US role.
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"The US remains outside the Kyoto Protocol, and its delegation came to Doha and immediately launched into blocking progress on nearly every front. Despite the devastation of Superstorm Sandy and polls showing majority support for climate policy, Obama's team exhibits no improvement from previous COPs. With his administration’s subsidies of fossil fuel export that could negate domestic carbon pollution reduction, President Obama’s legacy could turn out to be no better than his predecessor’s," Naidoo said in a statement.
Charveriat says the inaction by the US and others must be met with worldwide people power if there is to be hope.
"Our politicians spend more time quarrelling with each other than fighting our common enemy, climate change. Now citizens around the world must draw a line in the sand and build a movement that matches those that defeated slavery, apartheid, and other struggles for a more equitable world,” said Charveriat.
Dipti Bhatnagar, Friends of the Earth International climate justice coordinator, echoed Charveriat, saying governments' failure at addressing climate change must be met with grassroots action. "As the talks in Doha show, people around the world cannot wait for our governments to see sense and deliver the solutions. Working together in our communities, people are already resisting fossil fuels and dirty energy, building clean energy cooperatives, transforming our food systems, and protecting our forests, land and water from multinational corporations. Only people-and-planet-centred solutions will solve the climate crisis and create a better future for us all. We must make our governments listen and demand climate justice now."
In this video uploaded by the TckTckTck climate campaign as the conference closed, Greenpeace International's Kumi Naidoo says that "any government walking out of these negotiations saying that this was a success is suffering from a terrible case of cognitive dissonance," and that it represents a "betrayal of people in the Philippines" and around the world facing the impacts of climate change:
If there was a winner at the talks, it was the fossil fuel lobby, says Sarah-Jayne Clifton, Friends of the Earth International energy coordinator.
"The fossil fuel lobby won the Qatar desert climate battle, where we witnessed dirty industry elites still holding the reins of our governments. Meanwhile the climate crisis worsens and the window for action shrinks day by day. Developed countries did not even try to solve the climate crisis at these talks. Instead, they continued to protect the interests of fossil fuelled corporations and helped financial elites grow their latest cash cow: the global carbon market scam," stated Clifton.
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— Kumi Naidoo (@kuminaidoo) December 8, 2012