On Saturday, members of the Arab Youth Climate Movement united in a day of action aimed at encouraging the Arab world to take the lead on climate change. Ahead of the upcoming global climate change conference which will be hosted in Qatar later this month, the campaigners also called on Qatar to lead the region into a more sustainable future.
Activities and events were held in more than 13 Arab countries from Algeria, Morocco, Bahrain to Mauritania, Sudan and Saudi Arabia. These included theatre and dance performances, lectures, talks, protests, marches as well as activities with young children highlighting the issues surrounding climate change.
In a joint statement, the group said that the science tells us if we don’t start reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the coming five to eight years, we will not be able to avoid catastrophic climate change impacts that could lead to the collapse of human civilization.
“Unfortunately, the Arab countries have so far been the only region that is ignoring the threat of climate change,” they explained. “The issue is not high on the political agenda, and the public is unaware of the threat to future generations. Therefore, the Arab Youth Climate Movement has been established to raise the urgency around climate change, and push Arab leaders to fulfil their responsibilities towards future generations.”
They regional group also called on Arab governments, especially Qatar, to put forward emission reduction pledges to the international community and demonstrate leadership. There is more to the Arab world than oil, the AYCM added, and so the issue of climate change must be put on the top of the political agenda and dramatic action taken.
The latest UN climate change conference, COP18, will be held in the Middle East for the first time. Although Qatar is keen to make the most of the talks and promote its diplomatic role (and natural gas), there are concerns that the talks could end in failure.
As Brian Nitz explained in his article on the Kyoto Protocol, the talks could well mark the end of the Protocol which saw 191 countries (excluding the US) agree to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent from a 1990 baseline.
The Kyoto Protocol agreement expires at the end of the year and if countries don’t decide on the length of the extension to it and their carbon budgets, it could well mark the end of this important agreement.
For more on the Qatar climate conference COP18 see: