27 November 2012

Africa: Talks On Global Climate Change Open in Doha, Qatar

Washington — The world's top decisionmakers on climate are meeting in Doha, Qatar, over the next two weeks for the U.N. Climate Change Conference. The 18th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework on Climate Change is expected to focus on strategies for accelerating actions to reduce greenhouse gases and to inhibit the increase of global temperatures.

Almost 200 governments are parties to the U.N. Framework Convention, which produced the 1997 Kyoto Protocol binding highly industrialized countries to greenhouse gas reductions. The United States is a party to the convention, but has not ratified the protocol out of concern that government-imposed emission reductions would act as a drag on the economy.

The United States still has remained active in the international movement to prevent severe climate change and has taken assertive action both domestically and internationally. The United States and leaders of other developed nations reached an accord in 2009 committing almost $30 billion to help developing nations adapt to climate change and lessen its impact.

The World Bank reported research earlier this month that predicts the globe will warm by 4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century without action to forestall current trends. The research predicts "cataclysmic events" if that level of warming occurs, including inundation of low-lying, populated areas; disruptions in agricultural production and increases in disease.

The report, Turn Down the Heat, suggests that those adverse events will not occur if warming is capped at 2 degrees Celsius.

Developing nations are expected to face the most dire consequences, so industrialized nations made the 2009 commitment to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "The United States has substantially increased its support to developing countries to address climate change" through the "fast-start finance" campaign, according to a November update from the State Department.

The United States has provided $7.5 billion in assistance since the 2009 commitment to achieve "significant progress in several areas":

  • Increased support for clean energy financing.
  • Increased contributions to multilateral climate funds.
  • Programs launched to create initiatives for clean energy investments in developing nations.

The Clean Technology Fund is one such program, providing incentives for clean energy investments, such as renewable energy sources and increased efficiency in important sectors such as transport and agriculture. This effort has helped bring more solar power to the Middle East and North Africa and wind power to South Africa.

The United States also supports the multilateral UN-REDD program, devoted to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. The program works to help countries strengthen governance of forests and reduce the incentives that drive deforestation.

Deforestation through fires, destructive logging and conversion to farmland accounts for nearly 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the entire global transportation sector, according to UN-REDD statistics.

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