Five things you need to know about COP18

Qatar is nearly 20,000 people fuller this week as the country hosts its largest conference ever. The 18th annual United Nations Convention on Climate Change kicks off today at the Qatar National Convention Center and runs through Dec. 7.

Building on our previous guide on what to expect, here is an updated list of five things you need to know about COP18:

1) Plan for a longer commute. In anticipation of traffic across the street at the QNCC, many Qatar Foundation universities are closed today, but congestion around the area will surely pick up tomorrow. Qatar Academy has even asked students to report to school 15 minutes early for the next two weeks.

With 400 shuttle busses transporting conference-goers from their hotels around Doha to the QNCC, traffic certainly won’t be pretty in the mornings and evenings. Consider working from home or carpooling if possible.

2) Stay abreast of the news. For those actively following the climate talks, all of the latest information will be on COP18’s website, with updates constantly posted on Twitter. Of specific interest during this conference is the future of the Kyoto Protocol, a legally binding way to compel countries to cut emissions, which is set to expire at the end of this year. For a guide on where the climate change talks stand right now, see this infographic from Al Jazeera English. 

3) Participate. The QNCC is considered UN space for the next two weeks, and only properly accredited people will be allowed into the summit. But Qatar is also hosting a Sustainability Expo that is free and open to the public starting tomorrow at 11am at the Exhibition Center. The expo will run through Dec. 7. 

Among the displays: the “unseen animals of Qatar” in augmented reality, allowing for close encounters with the oryx, falcon and sand cat; live performances from the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra; and an outdoor food court, which includes free traditional Qatari food.

4) March. Demonstrations are expected to take place outside of the QNCC over the next few days, but once again, only those with badges will be able to partake in them. However, locals are organizing Qatar’s first environmental march on the Corniche on Saturday, Dec. 1 from 8am to 10am. During this time, the Corniche will be closed to traffic between the Sheraton and the Post Office roundabouts. For more details and to sign up to attend, go to Doha Oasis’s events page on Facebook here.

5) Say hi. Many of the thousands of people in Qatar who are here for the next few weeks will be experiencing their first visit to the country and possibly, the Middle East. That means, like it or not, whether we’ve lived here for 10 years, 10 months, or 10 weeks, we are all hosts for the next 14 days. Do with that as you will.

Thoughts?

Credit: Photos courtesy of COP18

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