The Stream, November 27: Doha Climate Talks Commence

Monday marked the first day of talks among the in Doha, Qatar on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), otherwise known as the 18th Conference of the Parties, or COP18, reports the Washington Post. This round of talks marks the last in a series of negotiations over the past five years that seek to re-establish or replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, an international climate change mitigation pact.

According to the U.N. News Centre, the Doha talks are highly anticipated to make or break the success of the “Durban Platform,” which are the unofficial precedents set at last year’s UNFCCC meeting. This platform includes a second commitment period to extend the Kyoto Protocol, and the establishment of a new legal protocol that would apply universally, rather than be an option like the Kyoto Protocol.

Not everyone is optimistic that the negotiations will yield meaningful results; InterPress Services, interviewed a climate change professor who describes the COP18 as a “conference of polluters.” John Vidal at The Guardian points out that aid and financial assistance pledged to help developing countries meet existing climate targets has largely been ignored, raising skepticism for the future success of climate change aid. Others, such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), remain optimistic that actionable plans such as the complete implementation of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation program (REDD+) can contribute to keeping the world’s temperature from rising above the 2 degree Celsius target.

From the New York Times, “An 83 Second History of 20 Years of Climate Change Diplomacy” (video).

Mississippi River Levels on Downward Spiral
Despite the low water levels on the Mississippi River that resulted from this summer’s intense regional drought, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will conduct its business as usual and commence with the further reduction of the river’s levels. The consequences of this may lead to a devastating stoppage in commerce for industries reliant upon shipping via the Mississippi River. Each year at this time, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reduces the flow of water sent from the Missouri River to the Mississippi River via the Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota. While some argue that the Army Corps is legally bound by Congress to implement this river flow reduction plan, others like Michael Toohey of the Waterways Council, argue that the Army Corps “have the authority to do it. They don’t have the political will to do it.”

Laos Dam Compliant With Mekong Pact Says Official
The Asia News Network reported from a meeting among Mekong river stakeholders that a Laos official defended the nation from accusations that its Xayaburi dam project has violated the terms and conditions of the 1995 Mekong Agreement. Laos insists that the dam construction process fulfilled the “prior consultation” requirements of the agreement, but other stakeholders ranging from NGOs to riparian nations like Thailand, are concerned that these prior consultations did not sufficiently address the trans-boundary and international implications of the dam.

The Stream is a daily digest spotting global water trends. To get more water news, follow Circle of Blue on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter.

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