Hundreds join Qatar’s first legal protest march to demand action on climate change


Hundreds of people joined Qatar’s first legal protest march to demand action on climate change issues on Saturday in Doha, where representatives from nearly 200 countries are negotiating a global response to climate change.
Calling on the Arab world to lead, civil society activists urged Arab governments to make emission reduction pledges at the Doha conference and to get serious about tackling climate change. Despite being the host of the current round of talks, Qatar has yet to pledge its emission reduction action. The “march” may have paled compared to protests and marches at past climate change conferences at Durban or Copenhagen, but for the civil society activists it was a big step. This was Qatar’s first legal protest march. Walking down the sea-front avenue al Corniche in the shadow of gleaming skyscrapers, the protestors gave calls to “stop climate change”, asked that “Arabs reduce emissions”. Seven months of preparation and persuasion with the Qatari government resulted in the two hour march on Saturday morning. In the end, the government chose to present itself as a benign partner. Addressing the marchers, Fahad Bin Mohammed Al-Attiya said, “This is a proud and historic day for Qatar. Today marks a very important moment in our history, today you are standing here together, and this march demonstrates your commitment. I would love to see the delegates take up their responsibilities and find a responsible decision towards addressing the issues of climate change.” The organizers of the march, the civil society participants, chose to look at the Qatari government’s position more positively. “If government wants to support this march then good, the government should take responsibility. The Qatari government should pledge ambitiously, show that it is ready to break the close circle of the GCC,” said Ali Fakhry of IndyACT, the league of independent environmental, social and cultural activist.