Doha, Qatar – Organisations representing a population of over 1.4 billion in 100 countries, highly vulnerable to climate change, want developed countries to agree to a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce emissions in line with the latest scientific recommendations.

“This conference comes in the wake of disasters that offered an alarming glimpse at what life on a warming planet looks like. A failure to build on the progress we have made at this critical juncture could be a set back from which we may never recover. If hard decisions to dramatically cut emissions are not made now, developing countries will be forced to confront adaptation and damage on a previously unimaginable scale,” the Alliance of Small Island States, Least Developed Countries and the African Group said in a statement released Monday at the start of the UN Climate Change Conference here.

Stating that the Kyoto Protocol is more than a treaty, the groups said it is the foundation upon which multilateral effort to address climate change rests. As the only legally binding international agreement with quantifiable targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it is essential to building any future climate change regime.

“At a time when the impacts of climate change are growing more severe before our eyes, and with the survival of our nations increasingly in doubt, the countries most responsible for the crisis must agree to a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol that will deliver genuine benefits to the climate that sustain us all. Currently, what is on the table falls far short of this climate imperative, “the groups said.

In a statement on behalf of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) at the opening plenary of COP 18, Gambia said with the emissions increase in the atmosphere, climate related disasters have become the new normal in their countries.

Since 1980, droughts, extreme temperatures, floods, and hurricanes have caused an estimated 1.3 million deaths – two-thirds of these deaths – over 909,000- occurred in the LDCs.

“We are only 12 per cent of the world’s population, but we suffer the effects of climate-related disasters, over five times as much as the world as a whole. All these disasters call for nothing else but to speed up global action towards addressing a low-emission future where everyone has the chance of survival and sustainable livelihood, “the Gambian delegate said.

Linda Hutchinson-Jafar is Editor of Earth Conscious Magazine

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