We’ve been feeling the heat here in Doha at the COP18 climate conference—at least when we go outside the enormous conference center. Inside, it’s pretty cool due to the air conditioning. Another interesting irony of being at a climate conference is the climate-control mechanisms (fossil-fueled) and the demand for electrical power, which is pretty near constant. As a colleague pointed out this morning, almost everyone’s looking for an outlet to recharge: computers, phones, video cameras, whatever. And it’s very unlikely that here or at any recent COP that that power is being provided by a green energy source, like solar. It’s strange and also so normal that climate delegates basically take the (uneasy) connection for granted.
Other arresting juxtapositions have presented themselves. A news article in the local paper, the Gulf Times, reported that Qatar’s gas flaring fell over the past year (Qatar is a huge natural-gas producer and the flaring is responsible, at least in part, for some of the haze we see here). However, the gas sector is the main source of Qatar’s GHG emissions . . . and gas emissions here grew by more than 20 percent over 2010 levels. GHGs from power plants rose nearly 30 percent.
In the same paper, was a full-color, four-page ad-supplement for KFC, complete with a large photo of Colonel Sanders and many photos of “chicken” in different guises. (There seems to be no hint of irony, given factory farming’s contribution to GHG emissions.) Perhaps KFC Arabia saw an opportunity in the COP delegates’ presence—the paper’s left outside the hotel room door each morning.)
There was also a news article on COP delegates’ irritation at the high cost of food in the conference venue . . . and a demand by some for buses to take people to places where food could be bought more cheaply. Here’s hoping KFC wasn’t what they had in mind. The one bright spot in the deep carbon footprint among the pricey (in more ways than one) lunch options: the vegetarian dishes were marked with a green dot. That’s a first for climate conferences!