Global Perspective

The Doha Paperless Global Conference on Climate change

Written by Yushau Shuaib

Doha Paperless Conference on Climate Change

The United Nations Climate Change conference, which held between November and December 2012 in Doha, Qatar was a spectacular event even when terminologists, on such occasion buzzed the sessions with expected technical jargon of ‘average emission per capita tonnes’ Kyoto Protocol, “hot air” ‘unused carbon credits’, and ‘Kyoto and non-Kyoto countries ‘among other scary terms.

The conference tagged COP18/CMP8 adopted a paperless system, which provided key information about the event in a sustainable way as officials, participants and even the residents used their computers, smart phones and other digital gadgets to track events and get access to designated venues.  Dedicated websites and selected social media platforms provided all the details that anyone could require without the need for circulation of paper materials like books, journals and magazines at the conference.

The paperless conference saved hundred trees along with the associated chemicals and waste of printing literature. Every and anything that could be printed on papers like schedules of events, timetable, maps, proceedings, handouts, notebooks, press releases, product brochures, addendum and business cards were easily accessible on any internet enabled device. On the alternative, compact discs (CDs) and flash-drives were also used to download and save documents for offline access.

With the latest technology, key information were accessible with the use of two-dimensional “Quick Response” (QR) barcodes that could be scanned by smart phones to gain access to relevant documents, maps and websites in a quick, simple and paper-free way. At the Qatar Sustainability Expo, which ran alongside the conference, exhibitors were encouraged to display QR codes that link to PDF documents instead of handing out literature.

The United Nations Climate Change conference is an annual multilateral meeting of governments held in cities across the globe and serves as a forum for countries to discuss climate change issues. The conferences addressed the threat of global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide.  The summit was held at the end of a year full of extreme disastrous events caused by super storm Sandy in the USA, typhoon in Philippines and devastating flooding in Nigeria where many lives were lost, properties worth billions of dollars destroyed and millions of citizens driven to internally displaced persons camps globally.

Scientists have claimed that between 2000–2011 carbon dioxide growth in the atmosphere was 20 percent of the total concentration growth since prehistoric level. The concentration of carbon dioxide in earth’s atmosphere has reached alarming level in 2012 versus the pre-industrial concentration, which was by far lesser and unsustainable going by the consensus of world climate scientists. It is widely acknowledged that scientific evidence currently points to a warming world that would adversely affect human health and agriculture.

Global climate change regime evolved out of the Earth Summit of 1992, which gave birth to three conventions including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Since then, 195 countries have become parties to the Convention that was ratified in 1994. Parties to the Convention have met several times since its creation. Conferences and talks were held in Kyoto, Japan and Bali, Indonesia in 2007; Montreal, Canada 2005; Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009; Cancun, Mexico 2010 and Durban, South Africa 2011. More climate change talks were held in Bangkok, Thailand and Bonn, Germany before Doha, Qatar 2012.

Marking the first time that UN climate change negotiations took place in the Middle East, the conference drew approximately 9,000 participants, including 4,356 government officials, 3,956 representatives of UN bodies and agencies, intergovernmental organisations, civil society organisations, and 683 members of the media.

Wordings adopted by the conference incorporated for the first time, the concept of “loss and damage”, an agreement in principle that richer nations could be financially responsible to other nations for their failure to reduce carbon emissions.  The concept also requires institutional mechanism to address loss and damage in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.

The developed countries have always been urged to compensate poorer nations affected by loss and damage due to climate change. According to the Copenhagen Accord agreed to in 2009, developed countries are to start raising US$100 billion per year starting 2020 to help poorer nations curb their own emissions and to adapt to the effects of climate change. Developed countries are supposed to reach the US$100 billion target by gradually increasing on the US$30 billion supposedly raised each year from 2010-2012.

Yushau A. Shuaib YAShuaib

Yushau Shuaib at the Paperless Global Conference on Climate Change in Doha Qatar

One of the lessons learnt at the conference is that the Qatari government, the host of the programme, has succeeded in sending a message that for emission control, environmental sustainability must be encouraged in various ways. Registered participants not only watch the video or read the text of proceedings and presentation through their electronic gadgets; they also participated in the robust debates on climate change through social media. While the paperless summit cut down on the use of papers to save trees and budget cost, the Doha Global Conference on Climate Change was not only paper-free, fun-full but quite an exciting moment in savouring the tranquility of the oil- rich and beautiful Arab city.

Though the power of technologies was harnessed and utilized for real green purposes, the attempt to have an entirely paperless conference was partially defeated because tissue papers in the toilets could not go paperless or wireless. Most of the gadgets must also be recharged electronically to prolong the lifespan of the batteries to really fit into the online environment.

This article by Yushau A Shuaib, has been published in February 2013 by the Economic Confidential, Peoples Daily, Punch, Tribune, Blueprint, Leadership, Daily Trust, Vanguard, Champion and National Mirror

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Yushau Shuaib

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