COP18: advice to Qatari hosts

The awful spectre of the Doha Development Round – a dysfunctional output of the World Trade Organization doomed to eternal rounds of failed negotiations since its grandiose vision announced in Doha in 2001 – was invoked in the Al Jazeera debate on COP18 earlier today.

Wael Hmaidan, Director of the Climate Action Network, observed that the Qatari hosts of COP18 have a “strong interest in success” for many reasons, not least to bury Doha’s “bad reputation” over its WTO association.

As he’s based in Lebanon, Hmaidan was called on to field the inevitable difficult questions about the Qatari Presidency of the COP. His view that the Qatari government “realised the importance of the political role belatedly,” only after winning the bid to host the event, is disconcerting to put it mildly.

More positively, Hmaidan welcomed the fresh interest in climate change across the Middle East region that he attributes to the choice of venue.

Hmaidan’s advice to Qatar is to send out a strong signal of good intentions by announcing its own national pledge for 2020 emissions reductions at the earliest opportunity in the opening proceedings tomorrow.

With all four panellists drawn from the NGO movement, this was never going to be a “debate” in the true sense but it was deftly moderated and covered an immense amount of territory. If you don’t mind the fuzzy technology of these Google hang-outs, I’d recommend it as an introduction to the headline issues for COP18.


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