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Two Arab youth are forced to leave Qatar for unrolling a banner at the UN climate negotiations

by Crystel Hajjar

Two Arab youth are forced to leave Qatar for unrolling a banner at the UN climate negotiations

DOHA - QATAR. On Thursday afternoon, two activists from the Arab Youth Climate Movement unrolled a banner, that read  “Qatar, why host, not lead?”, outside the halls of plenary where the UN climate negotiations are held in the Qatar National Convention Center. The action cost the youth their accreditation and for the first time in UN's history their visa and they are asked to leave the country in 24 hours.

"We are one day away from the end of the conference and we are yet to see any meaningful progress," said Ali Fakhry, a spokesperson for the action. "The urgency of this matter lead us to take this action so we can pressure the Qatari government to show some leadership."
 
The action happened as the second last day of the negotiations approached its ending with an apparent lack of leadership on moving forward. 
 
“Despite expectations from the new civil society movement around climate change in the region, Arab political leadership has so far failed to materialise," said Wael Hmaidan, the Executive Director of Climate Action Network International.  "But there are two days left of the negotiations, so the Qatar presidency needs to, today, pledge to reduce carbon emissions put money for climate finance on the table in order to lift the political energy in the talks." 
 
With one day left in the negotiations, there are major concerns that many issues will remain unresolved, especially in the Long-term Cooperative Action track (LCA). The LCA agreement was reached in COP13 in Bali in 2007 to set a roadmap for a post 2012 action plan. It was supposed to be concluded in 2009, but has since been extended twice and unless issues around adaptation and funding are resolved, it will be very difficult to move forward. 
 
“The disorder in the LCA track jeopardizes the entire Doha deal as well as progress towards an inclusive treaty in 2015,” said Liz Gallagher, a senior policy advisor from E3G, in a press release. “We run the risk of having a zombie outcome here in Doha.”
 
Last year, at the negotiations in Durban, South Africa, six Canadian youth had their badges revoked for turning their backs on Canada as Environment Minister Peter Kent started his speech in plenary. Unlike this time, they were not, forced to leave the country. 
 
“The activists knew that they will be debadged, but the cancellation of their visas came as a surprise,” said Fakhry. 
 
This year, in an unusual move, the Qatari government set-up an e-visa directly linked to the accreditation system that granted a free entry to anyone with an official accreditation to the conference. 
 
Crystel Hajjar is reporting from the UN climate talks, in Doha for the Media Co-op. You can read more on the negotiations here.

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