COP17: Deal in Durban

English: Kyoto Protocol participation map 2010...

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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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15-Year-Old Maldives Climate Ambassador Asks World Leaders to Take on Climate Change

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP15, opened Monday in Copenhagen, Denmark. One country on the front lines of climate change is the Maldives, a low-lying island nation in the Indian Ocean with 80% of its land lying three feet or less above sea level.

The Maldives President, Mohamed Nasheed, has been one of the most outspoken world leaders to warn of the dire consequences of climate change. In October, Nasheed held a special cabinet meeting underwater to call for global action to combat climate.

Here, President Nasheed pleas for other nations to embrace the practice of carbon neutrality. “At the moment, every country arrives at the negotiations seeking to keep their own emissions as high as possible and never to make commitments unless someone else does first. This is the logic of a madhouse, a recipe for collective suicide.”

15-year-old Mohamed Axam Maumoon is a climate ambassador from the Maldives. He took part in the Children’s Climate Forum organized by UNICEF and the Copenhagen City Council. On Monday, he met with the Danish prime minister. See his amazing interview below with Democracy Now! ‘s host Amy Goodman.

I hope you are as inspired by Axam as I am.

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