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Jon Snow: Has the ‘North’ learned anything since Copenhagen?

By Jon Snow

So the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change grinds toward another annual get together.

This time it is in Qatar and tagged COP18. The Meeting unfolds in a very bad year for climate change.

Perhaps every year has been a very bad year for climate change ever since we first learned about it. But the arctic ice-melt, particularly across Greenland has been devastating, fast, and furious.

The US received an autumnal wake-up call in the form of hurricane Sandy.

How sad that the damage and death in North America eclipsed almost the same number of casualties as Sandy’s original trail of destruction through the Caribbean.

Haiti’s repeated suffering received very much less media attention that New Jersey’s.

Perhaps then, after the awful media shut down on climate change, which I described in my COP 17 blog, the media will revive its interest.

Disappointed by the dramatic failure of the COP15 meeting at Copenhagen in 2009, the level of focus that was on climate change before has not returned. Do we not need to know what hand man played in Sandy’s force?

Has the ‘North’ learned anything since Copenhagen?

In particular do we understand the genuine sense of grievance that many in the ‘South’ have about the unfairness of drawing new lines that favour the old polluters and threaten to staunch the development of the newer members of the United Nations?

Clearly there have to be capital and knowledge exchanges between North and South if an equitable deal is ever to be achieved.

I’d like to believe that the ‘North’ feels chastened by failures so far. The North needs to demonstrate that it will fulfil the commitments made to the South at the Copenhagen Summit.

Many countries urgently need Northern assistance to move their wells and other water sources away from the encroaching seas. They need capital investment now.

Earlier this month, the Chair of the Least Developed countries Group at the UN climate change negotiations, Pa Ousman Jarju, wrote an open letter to President Obama calling on him to use his delegation’s clout at the Qatar Summit to get things moving.

I was in Qatar last week; I am reluctant to tell you that I detected very little optimism about the impending COP18 meeting. I hope I’m wrong.

Jon Snow is British news anchor for Channel 4 News. He tweets @jonsnowC4

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