Activists call for solutions to climate change

December 02, 2012 - 4:19:34 am

Fahad bin Mohammed Al Attiyah, Chairman of the Organising Sub-Committee for COP18/CMP8, addressing activists during the march on the Corniche in Doha yesterday.  Pictures by Kammutty VP

By Fazeena Saleem 

DOHA: Hundreds of activists from civil society organisations across the Arab region and around the world marched together in Doha yesterday demanding urgent action by countries to address climate change. 

Participants joined the march under the banner ‘One environment, One people, One earth’ with a key message that its time for Arabs to play a key role in climate change issues. 

First of its kind to be held  in Doha, the march  was led by Qatari activist Khalid Al Mohanadi, for 1.3km along the Corniche and back to the Sheraton Park, from 8.30am to 10am. 

Activists carried placard saying ‘Renewable Energy for all,’ ‘Arabs Reduce Emissions,’ and ‘We demand Action Now.’ They chanted slogans calling for urgent action form governments. “We want Climate Justice,” “Arab must lead now,” and “Leaders of the World its time to commit.”   

Activists from more than 15 Arab countries such as Qatar, Mauritania, Morocco, Jordan, Libya, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria, Sudan, Oman, Egypt and Bahrain will also call on their own leaders - during the first climate negotiations ever held in the Middle East - to pledge to reduce their emissions by 2020.

“This is a very important event in modern day history of Qatar. We want to be free from all impacts of climate change,” said Fahad bin Mohammed Al Attiyah, Chairman of the Organising Sub-Committee for COP18/CMP8 speaking to the activists. 

“I hope delegates will take up a responsible action for climate change,” he further said. 

The march was supported by regional and international NGO networks such as IndyACT, OASIS Doha,, World Wildlife Fund, PACJA, Climate Action Network, and the global TckTckTck campaign, as well as youth activists who were instrumental in the Arab spring and are now organized in the newly founded Arab Youth Climate Movement. 

Although 700 NGOs were attending COP18/CMP8 climate talks, only a few hundreds of them joined the march and some prominent activists such as Greenpeace were absent. 

As the host country of COP18/CMP8 Qatar has worked to engage Arab civil society groups to bring them into conversation in a way never before seen at a UN Climate Change Conference. It has spent $400,000 to bring young environment activists to the event. 

“This is a beginning, we will be going back to our countries and will start working on creating awareness among people, educating youth and talking to the governments to make them take policies to address climate change,” said Reem Al Mealla, Co Coordinator for Arab Youth Climate Movement. 

In the previous UN climate change conferences only five Arab civil society groups had attended. This year with Qatar’s support around 50 Arab civil society groups are attending the COP18/CMP8. 

Al Corniche Street, where the march took place, was blocked for traffic between the Main Post Office Roundabout and the Sheraton Roundabout. The area was given police protection and navy surveillance during the event. The Peninsula