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In Doha, We're Getting a Raw Deal

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Time, rope or runways, whatever the metaphor is for climate action, we are running out of it. Two days ago the 16th extreme weather event to hit the Philippines, Super-Typhoon Bopha, made landfall. At the 18th round of United Nations climate talks in Doha, Qatar the Philippine's negotiator told plenary that "at a time when we should be getting ready for Christmas, we may soon be counting our dead in my country."

These comments came as the talks in Doha are setting up to deliver a text which postpones any real global climate action until 2020, effectively ensuring that business as usual is given nearly a decade to continue. Entire pages on ambition, finance and more -- the fundamental tenants of ambition, equity and justice -- are being left blank. Countries already bearing the brunt of a world one-degree warmer than the pre-industrial average have been asked to again delay action, this time for nearly a decade.

The global carbon budget is nearly to the limit allowable in order for us to have a reasonable chance at keeping global temperature rise below two degrees -- the upper limit of warming agreed on by all parties to the United Nations climate talks. Already in the range of 400 parts per million of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, we have roughly 565 gigatonnes left of space. The fossil fuel industry holds over five times that amount in their proven reserves.

Put simply, the climate deal being proposed in Doha locks in inaction, enshrines a lack of ambition, sidelines equity and suspends justice, and it does that at the behest of governments like Canada and the United States. It means that those nations facing the worst impacts of climate change are left without a recourse to hold historical polluters accountable, without the resources to adapt to a changing climate, and without a mechanism to deal with the loss and damages wrought.

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At the centre of all this is one key decision that leaders and government must make, people or polluters? The United Nations climate talks can only work if the interests of people and planet win out over the interests of polluters and profits. The voice of fossil fuel corporations simply cannot ring louder when addressing climate change requires keeping two thirds of global fossil fuels in the ground.

An eight-year delay in global climate progress means that until 2020 big historical polluters will be shielded behind a lack of justice, ambition and equity on the global scale. Domestic action will have no global measuring stick to be held to save for the promise of change nearly a decade down the road.

This is the failure of the Kyoto protocol -- the original plan to save the planet. The actions of some of the biggest historical polluters undermine not only emissions cuts, but the fundamental principals on which the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was founded. Deeper than that this is moving us farther behind the just climate legacy that we need to build for youth and future generations.

No deal is better than locking the world into a decade of global climate inaction. The world needs an ambitious climate plan by 2015, and I for one stand with those calling for justice, equity and ambition to trump political feasibility.