COP18 Updates – Women, Students & A President Courting Oil

cop18 climate talks qatar al-attiyahAbdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah, who is the president of the COP18 got a thorough telling off for courting big oil executives in the lead up to the climate talks

The annual UN climate talks are coming the Middle East for the first time ever. As such, climate change and environmental issues are hitting the local headlines much more than usual and a tangible sense of excitement and anticipation is building in the region. To guide you through this tangled two-week conference and help you cut through the spin, we will be providing weekly COP18 updates. We’ve already published an article exploring the major issue which will be discussed at the talks – the Kyoto Protocol – and Does Vandousselaere has published a great guide to Egypt’s COP18 position. More after the jump!

COP18 President (Still) Courting Oil Executives
Days before the UN Climate Conference is due start (26 November to December 7, 2012), Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah who is its president, spoke at an ‘Oil and Money’ event in London and presented the petroleum executive of the year award – an award he himself had received in 2007. Avaaz, the campaigning organisation, was understandably not very pleased. They wrote:

“As the official conference president, Attiyah should be working tirelessly behind the scenes to shore up a successful outcome of the negotiations, not presenting awards to the top brass of the oil industry. One of the key jobs of a conference president is to act as a neutral broker, someone who can help countries work together towards a climate saving deal. Attiyah’s industry experience makes him uniquely positioned to find common ground at the upcoming talks, but his decision to speak at this week’s Oil & Money conference puts his reputation – and the climate talks – at risk. He needs to change course before it’s too late.”

Arab Women’s Role in Energy and Climate Change Highlighted
Last week, an event exploring the topic “Arab women leading the way in energy and climate change” was jointly hosted by the Directorate of Energy and Climate Change at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ‘Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice’ and Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company. Mary Robinson said: “Women’s contributions – political, economic, social and environmental – are central to tackling the global challenges we face today. Women can play an important role in bringing about positive societal transformations.”

“COP 18 provides an important opportunity for the region to show leadership on climate change. There is renewed hope that next month in Qatar, countries can agree to act together to take positive action on climate change and embrace a new model of development, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions, builds resilience to climate change and delivers sustainable development for all,” Robinson added.

Qatari Students Get Climate Change Training
The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) has announced it will train a team of eight top Qatari students to cover the upcoming climate change talks in Doha. IISD’s Earth Negotiations Bulletin is the world’s leading publication on international environment and sustainable development negotiations. According to a press release, the training will begin just prior to COP18 and give the students an opportunity to shadow IISD’s report writers at a live conference and gain hands-on writing experience.

The students will then receive a certificate on completion of the assignment, which will involve publishing a daily English language report during the conference. “Working with young people to further the goals for sustainable development is one of the most important investments we can make,” said IISD chair Dan Gagnier. “I am confident that we not only provide an opportunity for young people to make a contribution to sustainable development but that in this exchange we can learn from their willingness to question our terms of reference.”

For more on the COP18 see:
Egypt’s Position for COP18 Explained
Will The Kyoto Protocol Survive Qatar 2012?
Message to Qatar From Arab Youth – ‘Take the Lead on Climate Change!’
Lifesaving Sahara Forest Project to Start with COP18 in Qatar
Can Qatar Balance Its Interests and Host a Successful Climate Summit?

Image of Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah via Omar Torres / AFP.

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