Tag Archives: climate change

‘The Daily Tck: 10 December 2011 at 2pm’

One day into overtime at COP17, and no-one at the ICC seems to be very clear about what’s happening. But if the delays mean that vulnerable states are digging in their heels when confronted by proposals from rich countries that spell certain disaster, then deadlock is in fact progress. Because what the world cannot afford is further pretense that current actions are sufficient.

More detailed insights below, from the Global Climate Change Alliance:

Daily Tck: 2pm on Saturday, 10 December
When Ministers started arriving in Durban a few days ago many NGOs reminded them “it is all to play for”. Yet negotiations are now well into overtime and there are so many issues still at play that is hard to see an outcome that can be celebrated.
If there was one word to describe what is going on as the Durban climate talks drag on into midday Saturday – ‘chaos’ certainly comes to mind.
Yesterday’s Daily Tck referenced the ‘dreadful’ Chair’s proposed text on the Big Picture and it was almost universally panned particularly by the LDCs and AOSIS who pleaded for a much more ambitious outcome that gives them a chance a survival. Continue reading

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Waiting

Activists waiting outside the ministerial indaba at the Durban exhibition centre, as everyone waits for news.

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Final hours at COP 17, last chance for Earth?

You may well wonder why you’ve not been hearing more from this blog, and the answer is, I’ve not been quite sure what to say (and my computer was stolen earlier in the week). I find the intricacies of this process incredibly difficult to follow. But sitting here in the ICC this evening (now around 7.10pm), the feeling amongst the civil society people around me is anxious, and a while back, we heard that there is still no text for a final agreement.Talks may continue tomorrow (they are supposed to end tonight).

The one key to assessing success or failure will be: are there new commitments to cutting emissions right now? Or are they delayed yet again?

The rich countries seem to have been playing a classic game — dramatically lowering expectations before the COP, with talk of delaying significant agreement to 2020. Then in the last two days, positions seemed to be easing, to taking action by 2015 — with the effect that they would have won significant delays while looking as if they’d ‘compromised’.

It’s a strange place to be. I can smell the rain outside, and for while earlier, someone was playing the piano downstairs, beautifully, Beethoven and Debussy. Two hours ago I was in the midst of an enormous Occupy-style protest in the halls here — chanting and singing of Shosholoza by a great many visitors from overseas, with the human microphone call-and-echo-and-amplify system in full swing (and my first experience of using that system — scary and exhilarating).

A blocked COP presidentA little later, I witnessed an interesting incident at a gate between the ICC and the adjacent Durban Exhibition Centre, where the NGOs have their stands. The gate, open all week, was locked, and the COP chair, our South African foreign minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, was waiting with all the rest of us to get through. UN security arrived, and she said, testily: “Open this gate, this is my country.” One wonders to what extent she is autonomous here, and to what extent a figurehead manipulated by others. She looks exhausted, walking as if slightly crippled.

My impression has been that we may well be headed for a second period of commitment to lowering emissions by rich countries under the Kyoto Protocol (now excluding Canada, Russia and Japan, of course). And towards some kind of agreement on a Green Climate Fund. But as the chant went in  a protest in the ICC this afternoon, “we don’t just want a fund, we want a just fund”  — in other words, one that is fully funded, offers direct access to developing countries, does not undermine national sovereignty, and does not simply operate as another playground for banks and multinationals. But as a negotiator from a developing country yelled during the protest, “Delays will only cost the polluters money, but delays will cost our lives.”

Meanwhile, there is unwanted news from the science world — the carbon emissions caused by deforestation are twice as great as previously suspected. Bolivia has made a new proposal for dealing with deforestation, but Bolivia is all too often ignored. A pity, since they’re arguably one of the few sources of truth in the negotiations. (Here, Pablo Solon, former Bolivian ambassador to the UN, describes how current policies amount to ecocide.) But the prevailing view seems to be that, ‘This is about economics, not religion or morality.’

The big issues remain:

Will there be a second commitment period of lowering emissions by rich countries under the Kyoto Protocol? The answer seems to be a tentative yes.

Rowdy civil society protest in the ICC on the 'last' day of COP 17The Green Climate Fund to cover the costs of adaptation. Supposedly, this fund will be disbursing $100bn a year by 2020. But the ALBA group of countries, which includes Ecuador and Bolivia, argues that the current design of the fund is badly flawed, for several reasons. At this stage, it appears these issues will be handed over to an interim committee to sort out over the next year. Unless the funding options include a financial transactions tax, a maritime and aviation fuel tax, and possibly the use of special drawing rights from the IMF (the suggestions of the ALBA countries), the fund will most likely fail.

The biggest issue of course is how big a dent will be made in the emissions gap? And the answer is, at the moment, not big enough or fast enough to save Africa. Which may be to the enduring shame of South Africa, depending on where we align ourselves in the closing hours. It’s worth remembering that even the US is signatory to the UNFCC Convention that in theory binds it to “take precautionary measures to anticipate, prevent or minimize the causes of climate change and mitigate its adverse effects. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing such measures…”

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President Zuma sits quietly as his supporters physically attack civil society activists at town hall meeting on climate change

This is the second attack on peacefully demonstrating members of civil society in the last week, here in Durban. The first was during the march on Saturday on the Global Day of Action: ANC Youth League members, also wearing COP 17 volunteer uniforms, attacked protesters.

Press Release: Pro-Zuma Supporters Physically Attack Civil Society at Durban Townhall Meeting on Climate Change.

groundWork, Earthlife Africa Jhb

8th of Dec. 2011

President Zuma watches as Supporters Assault Peaceful Demonstrators

Twenty minutes ago and in a meeting designed for engagement between President Zuma and communities & civil society, violence broke out when peaceful civil society demonstrators silently held up signs asking “Zuma to stand with Africa”. Pro-Zuma supporters, many wearing the uniforms of COP17 volunteers then attacked the demonstrators in an act of mob violence.

Demonstrators were roughed up and some had to flee the hall.

While all of this went on, President Zuma sat up on the podium and remained quiet. Furthermore, it took nearly ten minutes before police entered the hall to restore order.

Siziwe Khanyile of groundWork states, “This was our event, organised to communicate with President Zuma. We were then abused, kicked out, robbed, and manhandled by Zuma supporters disguised as COP17 volunteers.”

Tristen Taylor of Earthlife Africa Jhb states, “This was a terrible display of mob violence that aim to suppress the democratic rights of citizens of this country. It happened in front of the President of this country, and disgraces this country in front of the eyes of the world at time when we should be solving the problem of climate change.”

For more information, please contact:

Siziwe Khanyile
Climate Justice and Energy Campaigner
groundWork, Friends of the Earth, South Africa
Tel:+27 33 342 5662
Fax: +27 33 342 5665
Cell: +27 73 830 8173
Email: siziwe@groundwork.org.za
http://www.groundwork.org.za

Tristen Taylor
Project Coordinator
Earthlife Africa Jhb
Cell: +27 84 250 2434
Email: tristen@earthlife.org.za
http://www.earthlife.org.za

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‘A dirty deal coming down in Durban’

The Mercury, 6 December

Eye on Society column

A dirty deal coming down in Durban

By Patrick Bond

What, now, are the prospects for a climate deal by Friday?

The biggest problem is obvious: COP17 saboteurs from the US State Department joined by Canada, Russia and Japan, want to bury the legally-binding Kyoto Protocol treaty. Instead of relaxing intellectual property rules on climate technology and providing a fair flow of finance, Washington offers only a non-binding ‘pledge and review’ system.

This is unenforceable and at current pledge rates – with Washington lagging everyone – is certain to raise world temperatures to four degrees centigrade, and in Africa much higher. Estimates of the resulting deaths of Africans this century are now in excess of 150 million. As former Bolivian Ambassadar to the UN, Pablo Solon said at last week’s Wolpe Memorial Lecture, “The COP17 will be remembered as a place of premeditated genocide and ecocide.”

Within the International Convention Centre, everyone in their right mind should resist this. First, it is patently obvious, after the 1997 Kyoto negotiations where Al Gore promised US support in exchange for carbon trading, and after Hillary Clinton’s 2009 promise of a $100 billion Green Climate Fund – both reneged upon – that Washington cannot be trusted. Lead negotiators Todd Stern and Jonathan Pershing should be isolated, an international climate court should be established, and preparations made for comprehensive sanctions against US goods and services. Continue reading

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COP starts awash, Occupy COP 17 in Durban

The COP began with a warning from Mother Earth, as wild weather hit Durban on Sunday evening, killing eight people in floods, damaging infrastructure and raising disease risks, an object lesson in the effects of climate change.

The South African shack dwellers movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo, responded:

For how many years must we keep saying that human beings cannot live in fire and floods, amongst giant rats and in the mud? For how many years must we keep saying that we are being forced to live in life threatening conditions everyday while millions and millions are spent on stadiums, airports, conferences and incredible salaries for the super-rich? For how long will our demand for our humanity to be recognised by treated as criminal and treasonous?

Occupy COP 17

I’ve been too slow to report that the Occupy COP movement is here in Durban, with activities at Speakers Corner at the corner of Bram Fischer and Walnut Roads near the ICC. There’s a news report here, and you can get updates on Facebook.

At the COP

China has offered to take on binding commitments by 2020, potentially a move that could unlock some progress in the negotiations before rich countries come with other reasons to continue their inaction. Although this is not a new offer, its Continue reading

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‘Vulnerable countries consider “occupying” COP17 talks’

From The Guardian, 25 November

Diplomats from some developing countries may “occupy” the UN climate negotiations that begin on Monday in Durban by staging sit-ins and boycotts over the lack of urgency in the talks.

The move follows a call by the former president of Costa Rica for vulnerable countries to refuse to leave the talks until “substantial” progress has been made.

“I have called on all vulnerable countries to ‘occupy’ Durban. We need an expression of solidarity by the delegations of those countries that are most affected by climate change, who go from one meeting to the next without getting responses on the issues that need to be dealt with,” said José María Figueres.

“We went to Copenhagen [in 2009] with the illusion we could reach an equitable agreement. We went to Cancún [in 2009] where we saw slight but not sufficient progress. Frustration is now deep and building. Now we hear that we will need more conferences. Sometime we have to get serious. We should be going to Durban with the firm conviction that we do not come back until we have made substantial advances.” Continue reading

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UKZN to accommodate alternative COP17 civil society events

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has been identified as the site of this year’s COP17 alternative space, known as the ‘People’s Space’, where national and international civil society will come together around the global issue of climate change.

The contract to utilise UKZN was signed on November 3, 2011, between the C17, a body mandated by over 80 South African civil society groups to coordinate civil society activities around COP17, and UKZN management, with the assistance of the university’s Centre for Society and School of Development Studies.

C17 aims to provide a space in which to strengthen the climate justice movement in South Africa, while at the same time consolidating civil society actions across the world during the two weeks of negotiations.

The establishment of a parallel space at COP negotiations each year responds to the marginalisation civil society frequently experiences at these events and the lack of progress that has been made by international governments in addressing climate change.

‘The People’s Space’ will thus serve as the space in which the people of the world can make their voices heard and where civil society can work towards creating another vision for addressing climate change by building a strong movement of like-minded activists and ordinary people from around the world.

Howard College venue just 6km from the COP

Situated just six kilometres from the official UNFCCC event at Durban’s International Conference Centre (ICC), Continue reading

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The C17 committee and its work for civil society action at COP17

This blog is a rather informal operation, as you may have gathered. But South African civil society has been busy organising itself for some time in preparation for the COP, with two primary goals: a neutral space for civil society activities of all stripes, and a mass consolidated march on Sat 3 December.

C17’s official website is c17.org.za. It includes a calendar of events outside of the official COP itself, and you can register your own non-COP activities on the calendar.

I will continue updating this site up to and throughout the COP – but please don’t expect it to be a comprehensive resource.

There doesn’t appear to be a final decision on the actual venue for the civil society space yet, so I’ll update you when that comes. However, survivors of Cancun will probably be relieved to hear that this whole COP, including civil society spaces, should be a whole lot more geographically consolidated than was COP16 in Mexico. I’m taking my bike to Durban.

There’s more about C17 below, in their own words. Faith community events are consolidated at cop17faithcommunities.org.za.

Here’s hoping we all find some true value in the next few weeks of craziness, and that Continue reading

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SEI policy brief: What drives South Africa’s approach to climate diplomacy?

The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) has published a policy brief by Aaron Atteridge analysing the domestic and international drivers that influence the way South Africa approaches climate change negotiations. It’s entitled “Multiple Identities: Behind South Africa’s Approach to Climate Diplomacy”.
Its key findings are that:

• In international climate negotiations, South Africa is widely seen as playing a “bridge-building” role between industrialised and developing countries. This is driven partly by a desire among the country’s post-apartheid leaders to promote South Africa as a responsible actor, a stable economy and a platform for foreign investment in Africa.

• President Jacob Zuma’s voluntary greenhouse gas emissions reduction pledge at COP15 in Copenhagen was seen domestically as the country “punching above its weight” in its contribution to global mitigation action. This reaction can be understood by Continue reading

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