What happened to the science in Durban?

Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and one of the world’s foremost authorities on climate

DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 23JAN08 - Rajendra K. Pacha...

science, Rajendra Pachauri,  would like to have seen the climate science driving the climate negotiations at the COP17 in Durban last week.

“I’d like to see the science driving some of the discussions and the decisions that are taken. I’m sorry I don’t see much evidence of that right now”, Pachauri told Amy Goodman last week on Democracy Now.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you want to see at the end of this week?

DR. RAJENDRA PACHAURI: I’d like to see the science driving some of the discussions and the decisions that are taken. I’m sorry I don’t see much evidence of that right now.

AMY GOODMAN: What is, in fact, in evidence then this week?

DR. RAJENDRA PACHAURI: A complete absence of the discussion on the scientific evidence that we have available on climate change. I would like to see each day of the discussions, starting with a very clear presentation on where we are going, what it’s going mean to different parts of the world, and what are the options available to us by which, at very low cost and, in some cases, negative cost, we can bring about a reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases. I would like to see an hour, hour and a half every day being devoted to this particular subject, because I think then the movement towards a decision would be far more vigorous, it would be based on reality, and not focusing on narrow and short-term political issues.

Of course, that is the real tragedy because as the climate negotiators make plans for what is politically expedient, the planet adheres to the laws of physics and chemistry and the window of opportunity to limit warming to 2˚C is fast closing. And a 2˚C warming world as a best case scenario would bring more and stronger versions of the extreme weather events that have become the new normal over the past decade.

Often called the “grandfather of climate change” for sounding an unheeded early warning to the world, NASA’s James Hansen said, “The dangerous level of global warming is less than what we thought a few years ago. It was natural to think that a few degrees wasn’t so bad…. (But) a target of two degrees is actually a prescription for long-term disaster.”

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Leadership of Billion Tree Campaign Passed on to the Children

One very positive result did come out of the COP17 in Durban. During the first week of the conference, on December 7, 2011, the United Nations EnvironmLogo of United Nations Billion Tree Campaign T...ental Programme (UNEP) transferred the management of the Billion Tree Campaign to the children of Plant-for-the-Planet.

The Billion Tree Campaign was started by Wangari Maathai and Prince Albert of Monaco in 2006. Since that time, 12.5 billion trees have been planted in 193 countries.

The original goal of  Plant-for-the-Planet, planting one million trees in every country, now becomes planting one trillion trees worldwide by 2020. In accepting the torch passed to his generation, Plant-for-the-Planet founder, Felix Finkbeiner said, “We have to speed up from 2 trees per person, nearly 2 trees per person to 150 trees per person which would be a trillion trees. But I am sure we can make it.”

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COP17: Deal in Durban

English: Kyoto Protocol participation map 2010...

Image via Wikipedia

Running 36 hours overtime, a deal was finally struck in Durban at the COP17. So was it the worst possible good outcome or a “complete farce” as Venezuelan climate negotiator Claudia Salerno termed it? The steps taken over the next few critical years will tell. And the role of the climate action movement around the globe will be key.

Delegates from 194 countries represented at the Durban conference agreed to extend the Kyoto Protocol. The only legally binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Kyoto was set to expire in 2012. The second term of the Kyoto protocol will begin Jan 1, 2013 and extend for 5 years.

At the last COP, in Cancún, negotiators agreed to a Green Climate Fund (GFC) where the developed nations agreed agreed to provide $100 billion to help poor countries adapt to climate change. In Durban, a committee was set up to calculate the contributions from countries.

In the best case scenario, a new accord will be ironed out in 2015 and take effect in 2020, placing rich and poor alike under common legal constraints.

What this agreement didn’t deliver was a fair, ambitious and legally binding treaty that would limit global temperature rise to the 2˚C the science warns us is necessary to maintain a livable climate. If we don’t see such an agreement emerging in the very near future in conjunction with a drastic reduction in emissions, we are well on the road to perdition scenario of 4˚C or more increase in global temperature over the next century.

Democracy Now! broadcast Climate Activists: Durban Deal is
“Very Weak” Agreement, Lacks “Ambition, Equity, Justice”

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Climate Deniers Make Presence At COP17 in Durban

While no elected member of the US Congress showed up in Durban this week for the COP17, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) recorded a video message for a conference of climate change deniers at the summit. Heralding the “complete collapse of the global warming movement and the failure of the Kyoto process,” Inhofe went on to say he was “confident” that he was the only person in Washington DC left talking about global warming.
Earlier that day, Democracy Now interviewed Mark Morano, a fomer Inhofe staffer and publisher of the Climate Depot, who spoke at that conference of global warming skeptics. Referring to President Obama, Morano said, “His nickname is “George W. Obama.” Obama’s negotiator, Todd Stern, will be here today. They have kept the exact same principles and negotiating stance as President George Bush did for eight years. Obama has carried on Bush’s legacy. So, as skeptics, we tip our hat to President Obama in helping crush and continue to defeat the United Nations process. Obama has been a great friend of global warming skeptics at these conferences. Obama has problems, you know, for us, because he’s going through the EPA regulatory process, which is a grave threat. But in terms of this, President Obama could not have turned out better when it came to his lack of interest in the congressional climate bill and his lack of interest in the United Nations Kyoto Protocol. So, a job well done for President Obama.”


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COP17 Youth Activist: Get It Done

There were many inspirational people speaking this week in Durban at the COP17. Most were the voices of activists- urging the delegates to put aside the politics and to respect the science by taking action that was fair, ambitious and binding.

Here is a video and transcript broadcast today on Democracy Now of one such youth delegate Anjali Appadurai. She evokes the words of Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible, until it’s done.” She then directs the negotiators to “Get It Done.”

AMY GOODMAN: A number of protests are being held today at the climate change conference to protest the failure of world leaders to agree to immediately agree to a deal of binding emissions cuts. Earlier today, Anjali Appadurai, a student at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, addressed the conference on behalf of youth delegates.

CHAIRPERSON: I’d now like to give the floor to Miss Anjali Appadurai with College of the Atlantic, who will speak on behalf of youth non-governmental organizations. Miss Appadurai, you have the floor.

ANJALI APPADURAI: I speak for more than half the world’s population. We are the silent majority. You’ve given us a seat in this hall, but our interests are not on the table. What does it take to get a stake in this game? Lobbyists? Corporate influence? Money? You’ve been negotiating all my life. In that time, you’ve failed to meet pledges, you’ve missed targets, and you’ve broken promises. But you’ve heard this all before.

We’re in Africa, home to communities on the front line of climate change. The world’s poorest countries need funding for adaptation now. The Horn of Africa and those nearby in KwaMashu needed it yesterday. But as 2012 dawns, our Green Climate Fund remains empty. The International Energy Agency tells us we have five years until the window to avoid irreversible climate change closes. The science tells us that we have five years maximum. You’re saying, “Give us 10.”

The most stark betrayal of your generation’s responsibility to ours is that you call this “ambition.” Where is the courage in these rooms? Now is not the time for incremental action. In the long run, these will be seen as the defining moments of an era in which narrow self-interest prevailed over science, reason and common compassion.

There is real ambition in this room, but it’s been dismissed as radical, deemed not politically possible. Stand with Africa. Long-term thinking is not radical. What’s radical is to completely alter the planet’s climate, to betray the future of my generation, and to condemn millions to death by climate change. What’s radical is to write off the fact that change is within our reach. 2011 was the year in which the silent majority found their voice, the year when the bottom shook the top. 2011 was the year when the radical became reality.

Common, but differentiated, and historical responsibility are not up for debate. Respect the foundational principles of this convention. Respect the integral values of humanity. Respect the future of your descendants. Mandela said, “It always seems impossible, until it’s done.” So, distinguished delegates and governments around the world, governments of the developed world, deep cuts now. Get it done.

Mic check!

PEOPLE’S MIC: Mic check!


PEOPLE’S MIC: Mic check!


PEOPLE’S MIC: Equity now!


PEOPLE’S MIC: Equity now!

ANJALI APPADURAI: You’ve run out of excuses!

PEOPLE’S MIC: You’ve run out of excuses!

ANJALI APPADURAI: We’re running out of time!

PEOPLE’S MIC: We’re running out of time!


PEOPLE’S MIC: Get it done!


PEOPLE’S MIC: Get it done!


PEOPLE’S MIC: Get it done!

CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Miss Appadurai, who was speaking on behalf of half of the world’s population, I think she said at the beginning. And on a purely personal note, I wonder why we let not speak half of the world’s population first in this conference, but only last.


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Watch COP17 Live Coverage Here- Starting Nov 30th

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate...

The 17th Conference of Parties (COP17 ) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is being held in Durban, South Africa from 28 November to 9 December 2011.

In attendance will be environmental ministers and negotiators from 195 countries, activists, corporations and NGOs. The world’s only legally binding agreement on climate, the Kyoto Protocol, expires at the end of 2012 and recent efforts in Copenhagen and Cancún have failed to produce a fair, ambitious and binding agreement. That makes this COP all the more important. You might say the future of the entire planet depends on it-even though some of the key players don’t behave like it does.

Watch the live coverage here:
Watch live video from OneClimate on www.justin.tv



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