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Climate Qatar-strophe in Doha

Split-screen photo of UN climate change conference logo and delegates gathering for the conferenceBy Mariana Paoli | 11 December 2012 

Twelve days, 288 hours, 17,280 minutes. Time is always precious and never more so than when governments from around the world gathered in Doha for the UN climate talks.

Two weeks to show the courage and commitment so crucial to combating climate change: would the opportunity be taken?

Sadly not. The deal agreed in Doha on Saturday 8 December was weak and did little but keep hopes alive for a future pact to achieve this goal, hopefully towards 2015.

Doha could easily have been billed as the clash of polluters versus the people. However, as my colleague Mohamed Adow said: 'Rather than the world's most vulnerable people receiving a much-needed early Christmas present, they were left with just a lump of coal at the bottom of their stocking.’

Not even Typhoon Bopha - which at the last count has killed 714 people and affected over five million people in the Philippines - was strong enough to drive international action. It’s quite simple: developed countries that are most to blame for carbon emissions have failed to take responsibility.

Cutting the level of emissions is one of the key solutions urgently needed to tackle climate change. However, the emissions cuts agreed in Doha were way below what science says is necessary to avoid a climate catastrophe.

In particular, Russia, Poland and the United States constantly undermined efforts to lower carbon emissions further.

A few green shoots in the desert of Doha

It’s not all bad news. For a long time we’ve been calling for the international climate finance necessary to help poorer countries develop in a low carbon way and tackle the effects of climate change.

So it was pleasing that, on this front, there were some concrete results. Namely, the UK pledged to increase money for developing nations suffering from the worst effects of climate change. It announced £1.8 billion over two years.

However, despite this good news - which actually encouraged other countries to follow suit - the Green Climate Fund remains almost empty. There is more to be done by rich countries in order to keep to their earlier agreement to make $100 billion a year available to poorer countries by 2020.

Sadly governments in Doha were forced to admit that they are not doing enough to stop climate change, and that they will need to address 'loss and damage' to some of the world's most vulnerable countries due to climate change.

If not here, where? If not now, when? If not us, who?

These were the strong words expressed by the Philippines’ chief climate negotiator, Naderev Sano, in an impassioned plea for developed countries to take action.

The UN climate talks in Doha have been another important part of a longer process in our daily struggle to achieve a sustainable and equitable world where the catastrophic impacts of climate change are stopped.

Despite witnessing such a chronic lack of ambition in addressing the issue, our campaign for climate justice will continue.

During the past two weeks, Christian Aid has been working with a number of passionate and devoted partners and allies from all over the world. We’ve been learning, sharing, lobbying and campaigning for climate justice.

We are proud to be part this global movement and to stand side by side in solidarity with one another. As always, together we are much stronger.

Your ideal world

In 2013 we will continue to campaign with our partners under the banner of Time for Climate Justice, calling on world leaders to take fair and effective action to stop catastrophic climate change and ensure the world’s poorest have the right to develop.

Take action now and tell world leaders what your ideal world will look like in 2030.

 About the author

Mariana Paoli

Mariana Paoli is Christian Aid's senior international campaigns officer

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