After driving by artificial islands, sprawling construction, and manicured gardens in the desert, it would be easy to approach the Qatar Sustainability Expo with some skepticism. However, after a closer look at this country, one can see a very real problem that regional governments and companies are trying to solve. Sustainability for Qatar and the region is more than a buzzword. It is a necessity.

Qatar’s vulnerable future

The pavilion, like all things United Nations, was massive. At the center of the hall was a hospitality tent in the shape of the Zubara Fort, built in 1938 and most recently a station for the coast guard. The Expo’s free food provided our class with sustenance throughout the day when overpriced conference center food was not an…

Obama’s Second Term – The World Awaits Much Needed Leadership on Climate Change

“We want our children to live in an America that […] isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.” Many still remember this brief, yet hopeful and encouraging moment during Obama’s acceptance speech after his re-election in November.  Observers hoped that Obama and his administration would bring much needed leadership from the top in addressing climate change issues during the UNFCCC COP18 Summit in Doha. Yet, the conference is now done and dusted, and the United States was again among the array of developed countries to block the progress with an unwillingness to commit to collective mitigation and adaptation goals. In fact, the second largest emitter has since scored not one, but four of the Fossil of the Day “Awards” civil society doles…

“She’s welcome to stay for as long as she likes” my mother says when I ask her if I could bring a friend home to stay over for winter recess “we now have daily water supply”, she adds triumphantly.

Provision of water to households in Bangalore, India’s sixth largest city and my parents’home city, is at best erratic and at worst non-existent. The state owned water and sewerage works department, BWSSB supplies water to the city’s 8.45 million inhabitants. The supply runs (or trickles in, especially during the summer months) for only a few hours every day and for a few days a week. The volume of water delivered per day totals 0.34 billion gallons. New York City delivers 1.2 billion gallons of water per day to its 8…

I arrived for the second week of the COP18 to replace David Emmerman and Kathryn Wright to continue our project with the Latvian NGO homo ecos:. The goal of this project was simple, to get progress updates from working groups on matters that are important to Latvia. These updates were then disseminated to the broader public via a social media campaign (@LatviaCOP18Chat).
Unfortunately, I only had observer status and was not able to attend most of the important meetings. But the updates on the progress made in the three tracks were still accessible from tweets and emails at the COP. In fact, everyday there was more information coming in than one person could handle. Sorting through all the information, picking and choosing messages was difficult and time consuming. Thus, from…

China Pavilion banner and the CNPC logo

The Chinese government again put up an elaborate China Pavilion in the COP18 Climate Change Conference in Doha. Everyday is filled up with fanfares of side-events and ceremonies from dawn to dusk. Despite the heavy dose of corporate footprint in the China Pavilion and official statements on China’s climate achievements, these presentations and performance in some ways reflect China’s strategic positions and dilemmas in negotiating for climate and advancing its economic development.

China Sold-out?

Since the Durban climate summit, China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) has been sponsoring the China Pavilion activities. This year, CNPC gave 1 million Chinese yuan (160,000 USD), which explains the subtle and quite ornate addition of CNPC’s logo at the bottom of the China Pavilion banner (picture left). CNPC is the largest oil and gas producer…

For a week I have been trying to put my finger on the cause of the fog that I feel at COP18.

Durban felt better than Doha.  There is a lingering feeling that something vital is missing, and I’m sorry to say that I am underwhelmed because of it.  To be fair, last year was my first COP, and there’s always something extra special about the initiation experience because the future experiences tend to have diminishing returns.

I’m not jaded, but definitely hoping for something more and not finding it.  Perhaps it is because we are a few months out from Rio+20, and there is a “big conference fatigue” amongst the crowd at the end of 2012.  Maybe I’m just disinclined to sift through the rhetoric of the…

    

Shown above are Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah (Left) and King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.  The former; once the director of the office of the Minister of Finance and Petroleum, once the director of the Office of the Minister of Interior and the Acting Minister of Finance and Petroleum, once the Minister of Energy and Industry, and curently director of the Gulf Helicopters Corporation, member of the Directors Board of Gulf Airways Corporation and current director of Qatar Petroleum, is a very down to earth guy with concerns for global climate issues.  Enough so that this once OPEC president has become president again of the COP 18 theater show.  Although the Qataris have only attended two COPs…

Old and New Doha

I was one of many surprised when Qatar was chosen to host this year’s Conference of the Parties (COP).  Qatar is the world’s largest liquefied natural gas producer and home to the world’s third largest natural gas reserves. The country’s pro tennis tournament is the Qatar ExxonMobil Open. An OPEC member chairing a United Nations climate change conference? Simply put, carbon has made modern Qatar what it is today. Sixty percent of the nation’s GDP comes from oil and natural gas. Due to high prices and increased output, the country is booming. While some were disillusioned with the selection, Qatar is actually the perfect place to host a COP. Ignoring fossil fuel production and consumption isn’t going to achieve much and OPEC nations have a role to play. Bill…

An egg card

"Mosquitos" can bite humans to lay an egg card or humans can seek "medics" to clean out mosquito egg cards

Doha, Qatar: “mosquitos” (willing participants at UNFCCC) are flying and “breeding grounds” (Red Cross Climate Change Centre team members and myself) are waiting for “mosquitos” to return to lay an egg [card]. Once the “mosquitos” return to the “breeding ground” with an egg [card] they then seek out more humans to bite in order to lay another egg [card].

On the other front “medics” (other team members) are waiting to give out cure/clear out [cards] to humans bitten by “mosquitos.” Once those previously bitten have…