Daniel: Day 2: Climate change and the role of law

At 6 o’clock in the morning my alarm went off to wake me up for my first day at the UNFCCC Doha 2012 event. We all took the shuttle from our hostel to the Conference Hall, where the convention is taking place. Even though we are less than 4 km away from the event it still took over a half hour because of the traffic!

But when I arrived I was so impressed by the complex that it made the traffic worth it. It was huge and extremely modern, and at first the process to enter into the conference is very intimidating. You first enter and take two escalators below ground level. Then send your bags through x-ray machines and then yourself through a metal detector. And finally you get the barcode on your ID badge scanned to make sure that it is legitimate. I felt like I was in Harry Potter entering the Ministry of Magic because it was so complex and intimidating.

But luckily none of us had any issues and we were ready to attend our first meeting… at 8 in the morning.
The beginning of the day started out a bit slow as we settled into how things worked. But things did pick up. Gil and I attended a very interesting meeting at the Doha Exhibition Convention Center.

Yale University’s Law School and School of Forestry and Environmental Studies hosted the presentation titled Climate Change and the International Court of Justice: The Role of Law. It had a panel of four speakers, including the riveting Ambassador Lima and Michael Dorsey, discussing a paper that asked the International Court of Justice to give an opinion on whether they thought that the United States’ carbon emissions were harmful to other states and if so then could legal action be taken.

This idea stemmed off of a case from 2006 where Canada had to pay punitive damages to the United States for having pollution that affected the United States. Based on this, their argument was that if countries are having issues because of global warming and the United States can be linked to its causes then they can be held responsible.

The idea is extremely interesting, especially because at the core of this, the presenters never want a concrete answer; they just want the ICJ to give an opinion in order to pressure the US government to make changes that favor the environment.

These ideas are extremely progressive and that is what is nice from what I have seen of the UNCFFF. That there are a lot of people here that want to see action and want to see change and this is a venue for them to do so and reach out to the politicians.

I cannot wait to see more from the conference and report more about the excitement from Doha!

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