In recent years, climate change conferences have had underwhelming results – as the ones in Copenhagen and Bonn showed. However as the 18th session of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) gets underway in Doha, Qatar (the first time an Arab state has hosted the session), there is hope that real change will be made as countries join together under the common goal of reducing global emissions.

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Over the next two weeks, more than 17,000 participants from all over the world will be attending the conference in order to solidify a new global climate deal. However as with Bonn and Copenhagen, there are real fears that the divisions between developing and wealthy nations (which have scuppered such efforts in the past) could prevent another agreement.

In his opening statement, former Qatari energy minister H E Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, President of the Conference of the Parties (COP18) said: “This is an historic conference and of major importance. It represents a major turning point in climate change negotiations. It is of vital importance considering the items on its agenda.”

The conference’s agenda includes plans for countries to re-negotiate a new commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, which runs out at the end of the year. However many of the world’s poorer nations want wealthier countries such as the US and China to take on substantial new cuts in carbon for the next five years.

In a communal statement, 100 of the poorest and most at-risk nations said: “The Kyoto Protocol is more than a treaty, it is the foundation upon which our multilateral effort to address climate change rests. The countries most responsible for the crisis must agree to a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol that will deliver genuine benefits to the climate that sustains us all. Currently, what is on the table falls far short of this climate imperative.”

+ UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Via BBC News

Images: CIAT International Center for Tropical Agriculture and Vobios