Doha fairytales (from 1001 nights)December 3, 2012
The UN bureaucrats could not have chosen a better place for the climate-change conference 2012 than Doha, the capital of the small but wealthy and ambitious emirate Qatar.
No country demonstrates so undeniable and beyond any question, that humans have to radically change their ways, than Qatar, which controls the world’s third-biggest natural gas reserves, is the top supplier of liquefied natural gas, and — most important — has the world’s highest per capita carbon emissions.
Qatar’s citizen get all their electricity, water, and even phone lines free, all basic services are government subsidized. Even drinking water is heavily subsidized, because water in this desert country comes from desalination plants, and making seawater drinkable is one of the most energy-intensive processes.
The average income of Qatar’s citizens is 90,000 US$ a year, the highest in the world. Each Qatari is responsible for about 50 tons of carbon emissions annually. That compares with 17 tons for the USA, 1.4 tons for India and 0.1 tons for Uganda.
In recent years the Qataris have gotten used to a luxurious lifestyle, living in air conditioned villas and being waited on by armies of servants — there is not much work to do for them. They also have developed a love of fast food with branches of KFC and McDonald’s springing up in all the many air conditioned malls.
As it happens, Qatar is now not only the richest nation on earth, it is also the fattest with half of all adults being obese and 17 percent of the population suffering from diabetes. In addition to diabetes Qatari citizens are also suffering from high rates of hypertension, partial paralysis, heart disease, blindness, birth defects, and genetic disorders.
Qatar’s wasteful and unsustainable lifestyle is also documented in its architecture, because Doha’s skyscrapers, vast shopping malls, lavish apartments, and luxury hotels may be impressive, grandiose, and futuristic, but they are among the most energy-inefficient buildings in the world.
Doha would also be an excellent place for a UN conference on human rights and democracy, because Qatar is an absolute monarchy ruled by the Al Thani family. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani became Emir in 1995 when he seized power from his father in a coup d’état. Most of the influential and important positions in Qatar are held by the members of the Al Thani family, most of the businesses are owned by the Emirs relatives.
With a population of only 260,000 people, the workforce is boosted by 1.7 million guest workers, mainly from other Arab nations, the Indian subcontinent, and Southeast Asia. Qatar does not have minimum wage standards and does not permit labour-unions. The authorities can cancel guest workers’ residency permits at any time, prevent workers from changing employers, and even deny permission to leave the country. Immigrant workers are regulated by a so called “sponsorship system.” which denies them basic human rights and amounts to modern-day slavery.
Qatari law is based on Sharia (Islamic) law and allows punishments like flogging, chopping off limbs, and stoning (including the death penalty). Qatar is the major financial supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, but in addition to that is funding other radical islamist groups (Salafis, Wahhabis) in all Arab countries, in the Caucasus, in Central Asia, and in Europe.
Doha would also be an excellent place for conferences about any kind of peace initiatives because it contributed significantly to the US effort of “spreading democracy” in the Middle East and was instrumental in ousting the godless socialist regime in Libya. Qatar right now is trying to replicate this successful operation in Syria, which is together with Algeria and Lebanon one of the remaining secular Arab countries and the only one ruled by a socialist government.
194 nations have sent delegations to Doha to spend time there in well climatized conference centers. As written before, Doha’s luxurious and futuristic buildings are among the most energy-inefficient in the world and the delegation members will have ample time and opportunity to ponder about the meaningfulness and usefulness of this conference.
The first half of the Doha climate talks ended on December 1 without achieving any major progress on the future of the Kyoto Protocol, which is the world’s only legally binding climate treaty.
Su Wei, China’s chief climate negotiator, said: “Parties’ stands are not very clear at the initial stage of the negotiations,” […] “We hope the ministerial meetings next week can lead to some consensus and solutions that can be accepted by all.”
Western countries are still reluctant to make further emission reduction pledges as urged by developing countries. The European Union plans to reduce its emissions by 20 percent till 2020, but has set conditions for a further 30 percent cut. The financial aid promised by the West to help the world’s most vulnerable countries cope with climate change has not been delivered until now.
Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, is nevertheless optimistic and promised: “The AWG, the working group on the Kyoto Protocol, on the Durban platform, and on the Doha climate talks, will be producing some new documents.”
This is a bold statement! As every informed observer knows, the UN is very reluctant to produce documents because the printing of these documents only causes additional environmental pollution without much benefit. UN documents most times are either being disputed, misinterpreted, or ignored by the signing parties.
Documents, especially the so called “binding agreements” only cause trouble and further strife, so it is better not to produce and publish any.
The USA until now always blocked progress towards a long-term global climate deal. But this could change because President Barack Obama after his resounding election victory doesn’t have to worry about securing a reelection and he doesn’t have to kowtow anymore to the bosses of industry and finance.
In the past four years Obama has, following in the footsteps of G.W. Bush, acquired more power than any US president before him and in his second term is free now to use this power (and the political capital of his election victory) to usher in an era of responsibility and an era of bold redirections that will make the USA the spearhead of a global movement to sincerely tackle the menacing issues of environmental devastation (exemplified by climate change) and war.
Environmentalists were dismayed when President Obama signed the anti-climate airlines bill (S.1956) prohibiting US carriers from participating in the European Unions “Emissions Trading System.” But this is in complete accordance with Europe where two weeks before EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard had already announced that the EU was “stopping the clock” on the Emissions Trading Scheme, freezing it for one year.
The environmentalists will be relived to see very soon a global effort concerning the reduction of aircraft emissions (which are a significant and steadily increasing pollution source) and negotiations in Doha will probably be the start for this joint effort.
The environmentalists will be relieved and elated when President Obama comes to Doha and will boldly cut the Gordian knot of stalled negotiations. They will be exalted and jubilant when he will tell the world that mankind must immediately stop using fossil fuels and that he, in order to enact his new policy, will disband the US military and use the 711 billion US$ (including secret and mislabeled funds rather one trillion US$) that the USA is spending on military matters each year instead for converting energy production to solar and wind power.
The environmentalists will be even more delighted when President Obama begins to transform the military mission in Afghanistan to one of ecological renewal, including rebuilding all homes to LEED (green building) standards and reforesting the mountains.
They will cheer when President Obama closes the hundreds of US military bases, stops the covert actions in Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, ends the funding of warlords, militias, and terror groups.
This will only be the start of a broad policy redirection. President Obama will introduce an investment program into public transport (new rail lines, high speed railways), funded by a carbon tax on gasoline and aimed to eliminate the interstate highway system over time.
He will introduce a support program for small organic farms and co-ops, a ban on hydraulic fracking and deepwater drilling, a stop on new nuclear power plants and a time plan to close all existing nuclear plants.
Later on Obama will stop quantitative easing 3 and take the 86 billion US$ a month that now go to Wall Street to finance instead wind turbines, a new electric power grid, and solar panels on every home. The EPA will be reorganized and supplied with the funds that at present pay for NSA, CIA, and FBI. NSA and CIA agents will be retrained as national park rangers, food controllers, social and environmental counselors.
President Obama will use his visit to Doha of course to tell Qatar’s Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, that it is in everyones interest to stop the arming of religious fanatics and he will convince the Emir that the riches of Qatar are better invested in the rebuilding of war-ravaged Libya and Syria.
All this will make him the most admired President in US history and a respected and beloved figure. He will turn from a vilified and despised man considered to be just another slick politician into an undisputed hero. He will turn from a man considered to be an embarrassment and deep disappointment, into a man who proved all skeptics wrong and who validated the Nobel Price committee when it turned out in the end that he indeed is a worthy recipient of the Peace Nobel Price.