Monday November 26 at 10 am local time, the 18th Conference of Parties (COP18) of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC) started. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, president of the previous conference which was held in Durban, transferred her position to H.H. Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah vice prime minister of Qatar. She reminded of the power of multilateral conferences like this one, thereby referring to an African saying: If you want to walk far, walk together”. She also recalled the successes of Durban, most importantly the initiation of the climate fund which aims to have a budget of $100 billion in 2020. Other countries praised this success in their words of welcome afterwards. Mrs. Nkoana-Mashabane ended her speech by stating it’s each and everyones responsibility to combat climate change, not only of the (president of the) conference. Action is required by everyone, we owe that to our societies and children. She wished the new president all the best and ended by mentioning the COP18 slogan “Count me in!”.
The newly installed president of the conference named COP18 a historical conference as 7 teams are meeting at the same time. According to the vice prime minister, climate change is a common challenge for humanity, and are the upcoming days a “golden chance”. The main goal is to agree on a second term for the Kyoto protocol. Unity means power, so let’s reach this goal together, said president Al-Attiyah.
Christiana Figeures, executive secretary of UNFCCC, thanked the state of Qatar for hosting the conference. It’s for the first time a Climate Conference like this is being held in the Gulf Region, which is unique seen the geopolitical location. According to Figueres, it’s the perfect chance for Qatar to show how it’s changing its vulnerable position regarding food and water, and to change its energy policy into one more sustainable. Figueres is hoping for an inclusive, open conference.
Next were coalitions of countries to introduce themselves. Similarities were mostly present: every state seems to be willing to extend the Kyoto protocol. It will be seen to what extend details might result in problems for this!