Published on December 9th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan
Greenpeace Executive Director & Activists Occupy Climate Conference (+ More Durban News)
Here’s a wrap up of the end-of-the-day events in Durban. As you might have guessed, not much has changed from this ‘step back and look at the big picture’ piece. But there was a lot of activity, something like hamsters running on a hamster wheel, perhaps,.. and being interrupted by activists who barge in and telling them they aren’t going anywhere and the roof is about to collapse (just to be kicked out, of course). Anyway, the details:
1. A new draft text (after much controversy regarding the first one) has appeared that is pleasing more parties than previous drafts. But, as you can see, it doesn’t have much detail on the exact timeline and it doesn’t talk about ‘legally binding’ emissions cuts.
2. Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo was removed from the UN climate conference, along with a couple dozen protesters (or up to 100 by some accounts), for “occupying” the hallway outside the plenary room (video below). “What we see here are baby steps. Baby steps is not what the situation calls for — it calls for fundamental change,” Naidoo said following the scenario. “What is at stake here is not some nebulous thing called the planet. It is our childrens’ and grandchildrens’ future. That is what we are talking about.”
And, before being escorted out, his lines were:
“We are here to stand with the most vulnerable countries whose basic survival needs have not been met by the men and women in that conference hall. We are here to call upon government minsters to listen to the people and not the polluters. The United States delegation is right now organising, line-by-line, the means by which United Nations member states will be eradicated from the map. We will not tolerate this.”
From one of the young Americans that participated:
“I think it’s very clear. There’s between 50 and 80 approximately U.S. youth here, [and] except for the four that are here with the State Department, everyone else is very directly against the line that the United States is showing. They’ve spoken out about it very clearly, very loudly, very prominently that that does not represent us, that does not represent science, that does not represent our future.”
Throughout the week, US and Canadian youth have protested their countries’ stance in various ways. Nonetheless, the youth of the world are dramatically underrepresented at the conference, as Germany’s Spiegel aptly notes:
“The decisions taken here in Durban will affect the world’s youngest people the most, yet the negotiators are mainly in their forties, fifties and sixties. There have been quite a few events in Durban where young people from around the globe were able to express their views and had a chance to talk to official negotiators. Yet many of the young activists gathered here do not think this is enough.”
3. Note from Bolivia’s former chief negotiator (in Cancun), Pablo Solon:
“I call on delegates to act. They know what is happening. We cannot let pass these [texts]. If we do, it will burn the planet. They must be stopped and blocked. These texts are a victory for the US. The text does not mention ‘binding’. It means we will have an empty Kyoto protocol. The EU is accepting that KP will be a zombie, only kept to preserve the carbon markets until 2020. I fear that we are going from bad to worse.”
4. From Richard Gledhill of PwC, basically saying the same thing I wrote earlier in the day:
“Even if [a deal is done], Durban will have been more of a victory for the UN process, than for the global climate. Looking at the numbers, there is no more ambition here than we saw in Cancun or even Copenhagen – there is still a 40% gap between the 2 degrees climate goal and emissions targets through to 2020.”
5. Despite growing warnings, Big Three can’t make commitment. As we’ve reported many times in the past year, the concerns of climate change just get stronger and stronger, the ramifications more and more catastrophic. Here’s a tincy bit on that from Reuters:
U.N. reports released in the last month show time is running out to achieve change. They show a warming planet will amplify droughts and floods, increase crop failures and raise sea levels to the point where several island states are threatened with extinction.
The dragging talks frustrated delegates from small islands and African states, who joined a protest by green groups outside as they tried to enter the main negotiating room.
Nonetheless, the U.S. won’t commit to binding reductions unless China and India do, and China and India say that they should not have to given that their per capita emissions are minimal, several times less than the US’ — they say they should not be punished just for being large countries.
The meeting has been extended to go until 6:00pm local time on Sunday now.
Photo Credit: Josh Lopez / Project Survival Media