(MENAFN - Arab News) The normally frenetic pace of Doha's construction sites slowed earlier this month as workers stopped and stared at something that had never been seen in Qatar before.
Almost 1,000 people marching down Doha's Corniche, waving signs and chanting. It was a public demonstration calling for Arab countries to take the lead on climate change. It was a very powerful first, and construction managers can rest assured, it will not be the last.
The legacy of the Middle East's first climate talks, the UN Climate Change Conference hosted in Doha will not be the pages of text agreed to by countries, but the fundamental shift in the region's consciousness on the issue of climate change. The most important element of holding the UN climate negotiations in Qatar was bringing the climate change debate into the heart of the region.
Achieving a shift in the thinking around climate change is no easy task in a region like the Gulf where fossil fuels are responsible for 73 percent of gross domestic product and fuel subsidies are seen as an entitlement.
But the nascent Arab civil society movement has already achieved some successes.
And though the Doha talks failed to deliver increased cuts to carbon pollution or provide any credible pathway to 100 billion per year in finances by 2020 to help the poorest countries deal with climate change, in the later stages of the negotiations four GCC countries - Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates - quietly issued a plan to announce emissions reduction actions in 2013.