Why the Middle East has a lot to gain from the upcoming climate talks if it plays its cards right
With less than a week to the latest UN climate talks, things are getting pretty hectic in the Adopt a Negotiator virtual office. Plans are being made, visas sorted, frantic emails written, policy papers read in the early hours and bags packed. Although a fellow myself, I probably have more in common with you – the humble, interested reader. I haven’t sorted out any travel arrangements, I have no visa and although I’m excited about the upcoming proceedings I won’t be there in person.
That’s because I’m the AaN’s first (I think!) Online Fellow who will be keeping a close Skype-enhanced eye on the proceedings from the comfort of my home. I am particularly excited to be taking part in the COP18 as it is the first time the talks are taking part in the Middle East – which is my neck of the woods so to speak.
As a campaigner with family and friends in the Middle East, I really want the talks to be a huge success for a number of reasons. Firstly, the Middle East is vulnerable to climate change and will be seriously affected by issues such as drought, floods, food shortages and possibly conflict if we don’t stop runaway climate change. So, the region has got everything to gain from a fair and decent climate deal which includes both developing and developed nations. In fact, the talks seem to have highlighted this fact and – if the rumours are true – various Middle Eastern nations will be demonstrating their commitment by coming to the talks with their own carbon reduction pledges.
Secondly, these talks are the biggest opportunity for the region’s environmental movement to get their message to the locals and draw people into their campaigns. I am not saying that they could achieve this in two weeks but the talks could be an amazing spark which helps develop a diverse and effective climate movement in the Middle East. With over an estimated 20,000 people gathered in Doha, Qatar – COP18 is also a great networking opportunity for Middle Eastern campaigners to pick up new skills, strategies and learn how to talk to people about climate change without scaring the bejesus out of them. Believe me, it’s a tricky one.
So, with the spotlight on the region and it’s environmental movement, will COP18 be remembered as a turning point or just another big conference that rolled through Doha? Let’s hope and pray it’s the former and not the latter…
: Photo of street sign in Doha via bradjward/flickr.