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 renewal now puts pressure on India to do something similar.
There is a grave danger that Canada will pull out of the Kyoto Protocol.
Meeting the SA delegation
Today began for me personally in a meeting of civil society organisations with members of the SA delegation, in their noisy prefabricated meeting room in the basement parking garage of the International Convention Centre. (One sometimes suspects an ability to shut out extraneous noise must be a key quality in negotiators.) People raised concerns over progress on the Green Climate Fund (the hope for many is that negotiations on the Transitional Committee’s report on the fund will not be re-opened here in Durban; also, that it should remain principally a vehicle for public – and not private – finance.) Earthlife Africa enquired as to whether and how agreements on agriculture may be advanced, and where we can get details on SA’s proposals – the response pointed out that agriculture is an issue in several different areas of the negotiations, and that sustainable agriculture is promoted in SA’s white paper on climate change.
Jane Ngobesi (Albert Luthuli’s daughter), spoke out in favour of sustainable agriculture and against GMOs.
A delegation member suggested that it is really important to ensure that the risks of GMOs and industrial agriculture are documented in peer-reviewed journals, so that these problems can then be included in the technical reports produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
NB: There will be further SA civil society-govt delegation meetings, on Friday, Monday, Wednesday and next Friday, 8.10am in the SA delegation meeting room in the ICC basement. An email address/contact point in the delegation is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Outside, we hear occasional siren wails as self-important people arrive in awful blue light convoys.
If you are accredited, and at any time it all becomes too much for you, there is a quiet room in the ICC for reflection or prayer, or counselling.
For those following my cycling chronicles, an update. I can report that there is a form of bicycle apartheid at the COP. If you are an accredited delegate, you can make FREE use of the bicycles lined up outside the CCR Expo. As I mentioned before, the hourly rate for everyone else is R50, or R200 a day (only 30% cheaper than basic car hire). The “cycle routes” established for the COP appear to be mere suggestions on a map – nothing actually exists on the streets, so don’t go looking for dedicated lanes, paths or signage.