Should the Former OPEC President Really Head a UN Climate Summit?

© COP18

This year's UN climate talks, COP18 in Qatar, to begin on the 26th of November, are upon us with perhaps the least fanfare of any COP in recent memory.

Perhaps that's because no one really places much faith that these talks will amount to anything scientifically meaningful in addressing climate change, soon approaching runaway, irreversible, catastrophic climate change at the way things are going in terms of carbon emissions and expanding fossil fuel use.

Perhaps its something else. I'm really not sure.

But what I am sure about is that it really doesn't seem right symbolically to have the talks in Qatar—ranked 116th in the world for press freedom, with huge per capita carbon emissions—and to have the former President of OPEC as head of the summit itself.

Compared to having Connie Hedegaard, then Denmark's climate and energy minister, heading up the COP15 talks, this year's choice of venue and president seems a cruel joke.

Responding to Climate Change brings up one of the tremendously environmentally suspect things His Excellency Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah (Deputy Prime Minister of Qatar, in addition to conference president) has recently said.

Al-Attiyah recently spoke in glowing terms of the boom in shale gas. It will "give the world 300 years of security" he says, entirely overlooking the fact that the IEA just laid out in no uncertain terms what needs to happen to keep temperature rise below the 2°C target Al-Attiyah is supposed to be shepherding the climate talks towards.

In case you missed it, the most recent World Energy Outlook, the IEA says that to hit that target, two-thirds of all proven fossil fuel reserves need to remain in the ground, unused. In the reverse, by 2050, we can consume only one-third of them.

How Al-Attiyah can reconcile his glee over shale gas expansion and heading a climate conference escapes me entirely.

In no uncertain terms, we simply cannot use even a small fraction of the 300 years of gas Al-Attiyah touts if we are not to destroy the climate humanity has heretofore enjoyed.

Tags: COP18 | Global Climate Change | Global Warming Solutions | United Nations