United Nations Climate Conference Kicks Off in Doha, Qatar

The 18th United Nations Climate Change Conference being held in Doha, Qatar, kicked off yesterday with a call to build on and implement previously agreed decisions to curb global carbon emissions by the year 2020.

At the opening ceremony of the 18th Conference of the Parties (COP 18), Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Atttiyah, President of COP18, told participants that "Climate change is a challenge for humanity…now more than ever, the issues at the heart of these negotiations are at the forefront of global debate and discourse…if we do not make the changes we need to now, it will soon be too late. We must decide whether we let our lifestyles jeopardize our life."

The more than 17,000 attendees include government delegates, representatives from business and industry, environmental organizations, research institutions and the media. This is a key opportunity for all stakeholders to exchange information and ideas in order to help build momentum for action on climate change. The general call is for urgent action to be taken to reduce earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions. The conference, which runs until December 7, will also call for a recommitment under the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period runs out on December 31, and currently binds about 40 rich nations and the EU to an average 5% greenhouse gas reduction from 1990 levels.

In addition, countries meeting in Doha need to reach a better understanding on how to mobilize long-term finance to support action in developing nations, which they have agreed must reach a level of $100 billion a year by 2020.

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