Story from Willemien Calitz who writes for Speak Your Mind, an international youth reporter's initiative - fresh from a briefing with the COP president, who says she is determined to get new promises of climate funding for vulnerable countries at the summit...
All delegations at the United Nations climate negotiations (COP17) in Durban agree that there should be a Green Climate Fund, the COP president, South African International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, told global youth at a briefing on Friday.
“It’s not about the ‘whether’ but the ‘how’,” she added, saying more time would be spent on garnering financial commitments than on decisions about setting up the fund.
“Global warming will not get better if we say we are overwhelmed by the global economic crisis. We need to take leadership in action, it’s our responsibility. I know before we leave Durban I will get pledges. I don’t know if we can afford to go back home empty handed.”
According to developing countries, the fund is not just about adaptation, but survival. Mashabane hopes to remove the fragmented approach to adaptation. “Let’s start the Green Fund and establish it right,” she said.
Mashabane commended youth for their interest and involvement in the climate negotiations. “More than 150 youth have been accredited at COP17,” she said. “The decisions we make today will not affect us, you will inherit that legacy.”
She assured the group of young people that she had used contributions from YOUNGO, the officially recognised youth constituency to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in preparing for COP. “I’ll be cheating you if I draft outcomes on my own, we need your input. The outcome of Durban will be influenced by your contributions.”
The COP presidency is ensuring sufficient engagement with youth and women in the negotiations. “Eighty percent of food produced on this continent is done so by women farmers. Whatever decisions we make here will affect those women.
“In Africa we have patriarchy – I’m strong because I’m ‘he’. There needs to be a balance, to be a fully democratic and dynamic society, you need both hands. I hope your youth delegations are also balanced,” she said.
Mashabane also announced that the majority of delegations at COP say they want a second commitment to Kyoto Protocol, the only legally binding framework under the UNFCCC, but added that they were looking for a quality agreement. “Up to now nothing has been said about the future of the convention. That discussion will start here in Durban.”
“If the Kyoto Protocol fails, delegates who are here must take responsibility. Kyoto Protocol alone is not the solution, but we can’t drop the only legal framework we have at the moment. The Clean Development Mechanisms is linked to the Kyoto Protocol.”
“We need to be at an advanced level of ambition to reduce emissions, otherwise global warming will go way beyond 2 degrees Celsius.” Small island states and developing countries are asking for no more than a 1.5 degrees Celsius rise.
Mashabane said she is “heartened” by the progress that’s been made. “It’s hard, but negotiators do well. We appeal to negotiators not to dance around technical terms, because there are people from many different language backgrounds that participate. If you are high on jargon, you leave people behind.”
Friday marked the fifth day of COP17, which will end on Dec. 9.
Bangladeshi economist and IPCC author Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad this morning on his frustration with the lack of progress at COP after COP: "Every dollar we are spending on this meeting could have been spent to help people. We have to look into our own conscience. Are we doing the right thing here? ... Making noises is good. But can we mobilize enough force to force the people who are making decisions to understand that all of us are in it together?”