Communications flop at COP18: from > 2°C to <2°C
The big challenge of this year’s UN Climate Change Conference COP18 hosted by the Qatari government is to agree on a pathway to drastically reduces global emissions and ensure that global warming stays well below 2 degrees Celsius.
Many criticize this for being a contradiction in itself: the host country Qatar has the world’s highest per capita carbon emissions and makes most of its money (GDP: $170bn (£106bn) a year) from selling oil and gas. It has the world’s third biggest natural gas reserves and is the top supplier of liquefied natural gas, according to the US government’s Energy Information Administration. One defends this criticism by highlighting the potential for awareness raising also in this region. And indeed, the slogan of this year’s conference is “count me in”.
Ads can tell the truth
So can we take this as the first sign that Qatar wants to be part of this transformation? Well, looking at the negotiations and the role Qatar plays as the host country, we have our doubts. And it seems like public ads can tell the truth.
When we all arrived in Doha for the UN Climate Conference the city was flagged with ads referring to the critical 2ºC benchmark for average global temperature increase. Nearly all countries have committed to stay below this 2ºC to prevent the most severe impacts of climate change. By accident, the COP18 host got the text wrong: the mathematical operator for ‘greater than’ was used instead of the ‘lesser than’ operatorl, together with the slogan “Count me in!”. They were thus – accidentally – telling everybody to skip the 2ºC limit. Funnily enough, three days later they discovered their mistake, removed most of the ads and replaced them with new ones with the correct ‘lesser than’ symbol on it. Let’s hope that this shift in communication also reflects a shift in political will!
Thursday, November 29th, 2012