'Arabs. Time to Lead.' Blog 5 from COP18

La Trobe Institute for Social and Environmental Sustainability

Blog No.5 – Day 4, COP18. Doha, Qatar. Thursday, 28 November

Professor Molesworth is one of Australia's leading environmental lawyers. He is chairman of the International National Trusts Organisation, the collective voice for some six million people globally involved with cultural and natural heritage.  In June 2012, Professor Molesworth was awarded an Order of Australia in the Queens Birthday Honours list for 'Distinguished service to conservation and the environment, to heritage preservation at national and international levels, to professions and natural resources sectors and community health organisations.'

“Arabs. Time to Lead”

Simon MolesworthEverywhere one looks at the Qatar International Convention Centre, the central venue of COP18 in Doha, there are hundreds of young Arabs wearing tee-shirts emblazoned with the slogan of “Arabs – Time to Lead”, in English one side, in Arabic on the other. Similar scenes are common at the other COP venues and in the shuttle buses daily transporting the 17,000 COP participants. Is this an indication of an “Arabic spring” focussed on demanding more effective action to combat climate change?

The main Qatar daily newspaper, the Gulf Times, today has a front page article in which the following is reported:
“Thousands of activists from across the Arab region and around the world will march on the Doha Corniche on Saturday to demand urgent action to address climate change at the United Nations negotiations taking place until December 7. The march is being described by its organisers as “the first ever event of its kind in the history of modern day Qatar”. Activists from more than 15 Arab countries such as Qatar, Mauritania, Morocco, Jordan, Libya, Tunisia, the UAE, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria, Sudan, Oman, Egypt and Bahrain will also call on their own leaders during the first climate negotiations ever held in the Middle East, to pledge to reduce their emissions by 2020.

The march is supported by regional and international NGO networks like IndyACT, OASIS Doha, 350org, Climate Action Network and the global TckTckTck campaign, as well as youth activists who were instrumental in the Arab spring and are now organised in the newly-founded Arab Youth Climate Movement. The youth climate movement – another first of its kind in the Arab world – unites hundreds of grass roots activists from across the region”.  

Hybrid car breakthrough.

At the Climate Change Expo currently running with COP18, Qatari innovative research has leapt to the forefront with the unveiling yesterday of a low-emission and low-fuel consumption hybrid car. This car has been designed and developed in Qatar by a local organisation, the Gulf Organisation for Research and Development (GORD).

The hybrid car engine captures thermal waste energy that is then utilised to generate electric energy to run hydrogen fuel cells using potable water as a source for the gas. The fuel cell is powered primarily by a thermoelectric generator, which recovers heat from exhaust gases and is aided by a thin film of photo-voltaic on the car’s sunroof. A particularly exciting revelation is that any car can be adapted to accommodate the system as it doesn’t alter electro-mechanical systems.
Preliminary studies have demonstrated decreased vehicle emissions such as carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide (NOX) by more than 50% and showed that fuel consumption was reduced by more than 20%.

In the Gulf Times newspaper today the chairman of GORD, Dr Tousef al-Horr, was quoted, when responding to a question about the difference between the GORD eco-hybrid concept and other hydrogen-powered cars by leading automobile manufacturers, as saying : “Our car produces electricity at no cost by capturing thermal waste energy, reducing costs and eliminating the need for an external source of electricity. Also bulky compressed-hydrogen cylinders are a thing of the past, as our concept accomplishes the production of hydrogen by using water through fuel cells integrated within the car”.

The leader of the research team who designed the concept car, Dr Esam Elsarrag, was also quoted in the Gulf Times saying: “The project will be a milestone in the efforts at reducing carbon emissions. Using high-energy and zero-emission fuel such as hydrogen is an effective way for improving the performance of spark-ignited and combustion-ignited engines. Produced by a unique electrolysis process, hydroxyl gas was tested as a supplementary fuel in a gasoline car, where spark timing influences the spark-ignited engine performance, without need for storage tanks”. Dr Elsarrag confirmed that this innovative system can be used either with gasoline or compressed natural gas based engines.

 Follow previous blog entries from Adjunct Professor Simon Molesworth here.