21 Nov, 2012 |
Qatar proud to step up to climate change challenge
Op-ed by H.E. Fahad Al Attiyah

In just a few short weeks, delegates from 194 nations, 7,000 representatives of non-governmental organisations, and more than 1,500 members of the global and regional media will arrive in Doha for the 2012 round of the UN Climate Change Conference – better known as “COP18/CMP8.” 

The 18th session of these meetings, which open on November 26 and end on December 7, marks the first time that they have been hosted in the Middle East and only the second time that the Conference has been hosted by an Arab nation.  Doha is, of course, proud to serve as host on such an historic occasion.  More important, however, is that COP18/CMP8 brings discussion on one of the most critical issues of our time to the forefront of our thoughts and conversations.  For one of the first times in history, everyone—all seven billion of us—shares a single challenge:  climate change.

As a coastal dryland nation, almost 100 per cent dependent on the sea for its water and more than 95 per cent dependent on technology and trade for its food, Qatar is vulnerable to climate change. Shifting global conditions threaten everything from food supplies to trade routes and could well push water-stressed regions such as our own to critical tipping points. And that’s without even considering changes in sea level. Qatar is one of the 10 countries predicted to be most affected by a rising sea. So this global issue is critical here at home.  It is one that we take seriously.  And it is one that we are working diligently to address. 

Under the leadership of the Emir, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, environmental sustainability is a key pillar of our National Vision. That Vision is already delivering results. During COP16/CMP6 in Mexico, the world joined together to recognise Qatar’s leadership on Carbon Capture and Storage technologies. Our business and industrial leaders are producing and delivering energy products throughout the world that improve lives while dramatically reducing carbon footprints. We have made record commitments to cutting-edge solar and water technologies that will improve our national food security while forging a healthier path for sustainable growth for millions throughout the world.   We are taking serious steps to reducing our own carbon footprint while dedicating unprecedented resources to research and technology that promise to shape an even better future for those who call Qatar home, and for the nearly seven billion who share with us this challenge of global climate change.

It is with this vision and these commitments to further progress that we welcome the UN Climate Change sessions to Doha.  No city—no nation—has a perfect record on climate issues.  Small industrial nations such as Qatar are a popular headline since the favored system for representing the carbon footprint yields an outsized per capita ranking that puts us at the top, ignoring the fact that the products produced by our footprint are reducing carbon footprints throughout the world by 30 to 50 per cent when replacing other fuels. But our commitment is not to battle with the headlines - it is to tackle the underlying issues. And I believe that we can.

I believe that we can build more sustainable, healthier cities. I believe that we can develop cleaner, more efficient technologies that help the dryland nations of the world deliver greater food and water security in the face of a changing climate.  I believe that we can work together to build a bridge that leads the nations of the world to a meaningful and inclusive agreement on climate policy. And I believe that we can do this during COP18/CMP8 Doha. 

But in an even larger sense, I believe that this is only the beginning for us. Qatar has committed itself to a vision that has environmental sustainability at its core.  We have done much across all sectors to deliver on this commitment and bring the conversation to the forefront of daily life in our community. Because I believe that we—all seven billion of us on this planet—can take steps forward every day to addressing this challenge that we all share.

Please join me in welcoming the world to Doha on November 26.  Let’s make this Conference just the beginning of a sincere and ongoing conversation.