Dispatches from Durban - ALERTNET

Dispatches from Durban

AlertNet Climate and its network of experts and organisations share their insights on the U.N. climate talks

  • Read five brand new analyses of the current climate policies in the five Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
    The articles are from the latest edition of the newsletter Analys Norden, published by the Nordic Council of Ministers and offering a critical view on current affairs in the Nordic region
    www.norden.org
  • To Agriculture and Rural Dev, reliable markets and good prices on food produced by peasant farmers motivate them to produce more hence contributing to world food security.
  • @worldresources We mention u in our blog from #Durban bit.ly
  • Women do laundry near a communal water tap by a roadside in Durban while the Conference of the Parties (COP17) of the United Nations Climate Change Conference continues about 6km (4 miles) away December 2, 2011. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

  • Climate information may be Malian farmers' most valuable tool ow.ly #COP17 #climate
  • grapher: REUTERS/Mike Hutchings Environmental activists demonstrate outside the United Nations Climate Change conference (COP17) in Durban, December 2, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

  • Environmental activists demonstrate outside the United Nations Climate Change conference (COP17) in Durban, December 2, 2011. The demonstration aimed to highlight nations failing to act effectively to prevent climate change. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

  • REDD+ remains at the top of the agenda in debates at #COP17 tinyurl.com according to CDKN's Monica Andrade @CDKN_lac
  • Environmental activists with flags on their backs bury their heads in the sand on Durban's beachfront, December 2, 2011. The demostration aimed to highlight nations failing to act effectively to prevent climate change. The city is hosting the United Nations Climate Change conference (COP17). REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

  • From The Daily Telegraph: As giant climate summits – like the one now taking place in Durban, South Africa – grind wearily on, the old parlour blamegame of “Hunt the Villain” increasingly takes hold among the thousands of delegates and hangers on that assemble each year.

    For years it was easy enough – George W Bush's United States was the shoo-in repetitive winner. After all it had refused even to try to ratify the Kyoto Protocol – the one international treaty requiring countries to cut their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases – and for a while the US even seemed to deny the existence of climate change (though the President later changed his mind). blogs.telegraph.co.uk
  • Coal-reliant Poland can be seen as a developing nation, making it apt to lead EU negotiations at Durban climate talks, where one of the disputes is over the roles of rich versus poor nations, a member of the Polish team said.

    Holder of the rotating EU presidency, Poland has been criticized for its environmental stance within the EU, which is seeking to lead the push for a new global pact to curb climate change. www.reuters.com
  • From Bloomberg: The U.S. and the European Union gave contradictory views about a key proposal at United Nations climate talks as envoys drew up a 100-page document outlining conclusions for the meeting aimed at fighting global warming. www.bloomberg.com
  • Waste pickers play a role in climate change mitigation.

  • Civil society is calling for the introduction of green energy to replace coal: www.ips.org

  • Green Climate Fund private sector facility: an opportunity for climate compatible development: Celine Herweijer,... bit.ly
  • 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...
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    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.
  • A beautiful 12-photo series of Kenyan farmers and their priorities in their lives is now on the front page of the Guardian Global Development site. All photos are by Neil Palmer of the Center for Tropical Agriculture and are part of a series of photos being launched tomorrow (Saturday) at Agriculture and Rural Development Day in Durban. See the photo series here (and hopefully see you all at the event tomorrow): www.guardian.co.uk
  • China may agree to legally binding emissions cuts, says its lead #climate negotiator at Durban ow.ly #COP17
  • Q&A with RAJENDRA SHENDE, former @UNEPandYou OzonAction programme head on #MontrealProtocol, #KyotoProtocol and #COP17 ow.ly
  • The climate-energy Daily is out! bit.ly ▸ Top stories today via @ourenergytweet @petergleick @capandtrade @jrussar
  • Is there a link between #climatechange & #HIVAIDS? From an @ipsafrica & @mdda_za sponsored community journo at #COP17: ow.ly
  • 'The #Kalahari Will Die Before Us' by community journo Joseph Bushby ow.ly @ipsafrica @mdda_za #COP17 #indigenous #Durban
  • RT @nelkington: Video showing reaction of last night's heavy rains in Nairobi that caused a lot of damage bit.ly @zawadin ...
  • RT @nelkington: VIDEO: Nairobi Dec floods part 2 - feels like a small tsunami bit.ly #floods #rains #climatechange
  • RT @nelkington: Heavy rains and flooding hit Nairobi Part 3 - "Feels like a small tsunami" bit.ly
  • New research agenda for Africa’s dry #forests defined at #Durban blog.cifor.org #COP17
  • New CIFOR map gives first global overview of #REDD+ blog.cifor.org #COP17 #Durban
  • Latin American Integration Does Not Extend to Climate Change**: The foreseeable absence of binding agreements to... bit.ly
  • Linh Do, Nagida Clark || Speak Your Mind

    A video from the We Have Faith rally.

    www.youtube.com
  • Linh Do || Speak Your Mind || www.symnews.org

    A photo set from the Conference of Youth.

    www.flickr.com
  • Where are the goal posts? Day 3 at COP17 || Tim Hall || www.symnews.org


    It was business time at COP on day 3, as dozens of informal meetings took place and the plot of COP17 began to take shape, with the developing/developed nation divide rearing its ugly head and the issues of finance finally arriving in Durban. Meanwhile further affirmations of the climate crisis were made.
    China kicked things off by criticizing Canada’s “bad example” in the Chinese government’s official news agency, Xinhua. The piece claimed that China saw Canada’s withdrawal, and its reluctance to confirm or deny, as hurting the international efforts to combat climate change.
    The European Union (EU) then surprised everyone by renouncing its previous approach to climate negotiations, and taking a hard line stance on the possibility of a new global treaty. They insist they will not partake in any new treaty unless the developing world is also bound to curb emissions.
    Turning away from the governing principle of Kyoto—common but differentiated responsibility—the EU has instead adopted the principle of ‘legal parallelism’ to guide the future architecture of the climate regime. The EU (and by implication, developed countries) will only sign up to enforceable emissions reductions if developing nations do as well.
    It’s a stance which brought EU in head to head conflict with the BRIC nations of Brazil, Russia, India and most vocally, China.
    In an interview with the Guardian, the Polish presidency of the EU denounced the previous “dovish” stance of the EU in climate negotiations, and hit out at critics by arguing the EU has always led the world. Now other powerful nations have to take the lead, they said. For these efforts, Poland won fossil of the day.
    China reacted negatively, saying the EU was shifting the goalposts. In response, the EU made reference to the 2007 Bali roadmap and the failed 2009 Copenhagen negotiations—where the breakdown in negotiations were widely attributed to China,
    “The goal posts shifted already and not by EU,” said Artur Runge Metzger, the EU’s top negotiator.
    Yet China made a positive step by announcing despite the EU stance, “developing countries are also open and ready to talk to [the EU] about how to address this issue.”
    In the afternoon the long awaited issue of finance finally reached the COP, as the report from the Transitional Committee for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) was presented to the COP. The ALBA group, a small coalition of Latin American socialist countries, had made clear they would not allow the draft governance to go through without amendment—and to their credit, they stuck to that word.
    Many countries supported the adoption of the draft, despite its widely acknowledged flaws, in the interest of getting the GCF running as soon as possible. But ALBA along with Saudi Arabia and with ambiguous support from the Philippines speaking for G77 and China, insisted it was unacceptable.
    ALBA expressed concern over elements of the governing instrument which they felt might “hinder democratic access to resources,” and pushed for the GCF to have legal status, be under the guidance of the COP and ensure no conflict of interest in the trustee position.
    The South African COP presidency, again displaying inspired leadership, proposed to conduct informal consultations to find a decision agreeable for all parties, and pushed that decision through, although was subsequently challenged by the Philippines, ALBA and Saudi Arabia, who demanded clarification on procedural matters.
    The USA also raised a few eyebrows by declaring that there was no scope in the Cancun Agreements to increase 2020 pledges and that no country was willing to do so.
    Meanwhile, Rajendra Pachauri, the UN’s top scientist, warned negotiators that global warming was increasing human harm and financial costs. The strong implication was that time is running out. He warned that intense heat waves occurring every twenty years will become the norm by 2100, and that rain-reliant agriculture in Africa will shrink by half—leaving 250 million more people facing water scarcity.
  • Green Climate Fund || Anjali Chandrashekar || www.symnews.org
  • EU's Fast Financing of Africa || Julian Koschorke || www.symnews.org


    Least developed countries are faced with the need to adapt to climate change today, how is the global community assisting them?
    It is a sad irony of climate change that the poorest countries have to bear its effects more than developed countries, who are the biggest contributors to global warming. The least developed countries (LDCs) are vulnerable to desertification, water shortage, droughts and the resulting famines. Furthermore they lack the capacity to adapt to climate change impacts. To support these countries, developed countries have pledged to provide almost €22 billion to developing countries in Copenhagen in 2009. The money is made available over a period of three years from 2010 to 2012, to enhance action on mitigation, adaptation, technology development and transfer and capacity building. It is called the ‘fast start financing initiative’ because it is a short term program aimed at projects that are quickly implementable. Approximately a fourth of the total cost for this initiative, was promised by the European Union. At COP17 in Durban, the EU gave an update on its compliance with this commitment.
    One of the programs sponsored by the EU through fast start financing is the Africa Biogas Partnership Program. Supported by the Dutch Government and the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV), this project is aimed at providing ten million people in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda with sustainable energy by 2015 through the installation of 70,000 small-scale biogas plants. One of those plants costs approximately 500 to 700 Euros and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve the health and living conditions of those using the facilities and create jobs.
    The €7.2 million provided by the EU for this project in 2011 is part of the total of €2.34 billion European states have provided this year. Together with the €2.34 billion mobilised in 2010, the EU has provided about two-thirds of its total commitment. After two, of three years, the EU is meeting their target. Given that it is a very difficult period for the European economy, this is quite remarkable news.
    Dr. Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher, Director General of the Ethiopian Environmental Protection Authority, whose country receives funds from the initiative sees, however, remaining problems and challenges with fast start financing. Firstly, he believes the funds to be insufficient. “Will contributors stick to their promise, to increase transfers to developing countries to 100 billion dollars by 2020?,” he asks. Secondly, he criticises the bureaucracy needed to ensure accountability. “These requirements challenge countries that don’t have the capacity to deal with the bureaucracy. This leads to situations, where countries that need the money, can’t manage to even apply for the funds,” he says. The bureaucracy is, however, often very necessary, as Taulealeausumai Tuifuisaa Laavasa Maluafrom, part of the Samoan delegation emphasizes. As Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, he has worked with fast start financing money from the EU. “It is hard work, to make sure that the money from the EU really reaches the project and doesn’t get lost somewhere in the Ministry of Finance.”
    The most persevering question concerning the EU’s fast start financing, however, is about the origin of the money. “How do I know, that this money is not from the ODA [Official Development Assistance] budget and has just been re-dubbed ‘fast start’?,” asks Dr. Tewolde. Arthur Runge-Metzger, Director for Climate Policy at the European Commission, reassures that the money is “new and additional.” “We took it out of the budget margin, the money that has not been assigned a specific purpose to be used in cases of urgency,” he says.
    The fast start funding by the EU will end after 2012. Meanwhile countries like Australia and Japan have taken up the concept and provide similar finance to vulnerable countries. “Fast start is working, but this can only be the beginning,” Taulealeausumai Tuifuisaa Laavasa Maluafrom believes.
    The negotiations at COP17 in Durban will show, if the Green Climate Fund will extend and the expand the money flow to projects like the Africa Biogas Partnership Program.
  • Durban Must Deliver: Where to After Kyoto || Julian Koschorke || www.symnews.org


    For Durban to be a success, three main areas must be addressed: a post-Kyoto agreement, financing and forestry.

    “Durban is here, this is the last moment,” Martin Khor, Director of the South Centre, said at COP17 in Durban, South Africa.
    “We have one thousand gigatonnes of atmospheric space left. If we continue to emit between 45 and 48 gigatonnes a year, there won’t be any space left within the next twenty.”
    If climate change is to be limited to two degrees of warming, necessary steps must be taken within six years. The bottom line is, we need to act now. Durban must deliver.

    Part One: The Kyoto Protocol, then what?
    The Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period will expire at the end of next year, and no consensus has been reached on what will happen after that.
    Through not answering this question, the world is in danger of not having a legally binding agreement on climate after 2012. If no succession plan can be agreed upon, states will be able to emit and not be held to account through a global standard. This includes developed countries that have already set reduction targets under Kyoto. To reach an agreement on a second commitment period or establish a new treaty – which ideally would include non-Kyoto signatories such as the United States – further reduction targets will have to be negotiated amongst current participating parties.
    The substantial aspects of the negotiations are yet to occur. Previous negotiations have demonstrated that differing opinions between developing and developed countries on reductions targets are often a matter of contention leading to deadlocks within the process.
    For Khor, however, the way forward is simple. “The rich will have to reduce drastically, whereas the poor should be given space to expand.“
    Unfortunately, international politics doesn’t work according to principles of justice. The interests of the major players in the negotiations currently do not indicate a strong commitment towards achieving adequate greenhouse gas emission cuts to prevent two degrees of warming.
    The US has no intentions to sign a legally binding agreement. Historically, the US has been opposed to being bound legally by international treaties. Practically, the Obama Administration is being held hostage by a Republican House of Representatives with a failed attempt to legislate on climate domestically earlier this year. Even if willing, they would have trouble ratifying a treaty.
    “In personal conversations, the US negotiators admit that they can’t get legislation in Congress,” says Lim Li Lin from the Third World Network.
    Since it would be akin to a confession of failure if they were to openly admit their domestic powerlessness, the US and other developed economies like Canada choose to ignore their international responsibilities. Instead, the US calls upon major emerging economies (namely Brazil, India and China) to immediately curb their emissions, defeating the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’.
    Developed countries have historically emitted greenhouse gases in order to industrialise to their current economic state. As such, they bear the onus of being the first to act. Developing countries justify their increase of emissions through claiming that it is their turn to industrialise, just as developed countries have been able to previously. According to UNEP’s Green Economy report, it is possible to do so without adversely impacting the environment with financial and technological support from advanced economies.
    Apart from these major players, who will most probably determine the outcome of COP17, there are also smaller ‘in-between’ states. These in-between states are often the least developed and, ironically, the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Countries such as Bolivia have continued to speak with increasing urgency in Durban, drawing attention to equity issues that were raised in Cancun. Yet, climate policy rarely reflects their concerns.
    Negotiations on a successor to Kyoto are stuck. The only gleam of hope may be the European Union. Realising that a comprehensive agreement is not possible in Durban, they have proposed a road map, which would determine the steps to a binding agreement by 2015. Khor, however, thinks this is a scam, saying, “There was already a road map, it was called the Bali Road Map. Why didn’t we stick to that? The developed nations, including the EU, want to hide from the world, that they have failed!”
    “Durban is a crucial moment,” as Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, President of COP17, reminded delegates at the opening of the negotiations. Here in South Africa, the international community gets another chance to solve the climate crisis threatening the planet and livelihoods of future generations; it may also be the last chance as the Kyoto Protocol expires. As with past negotiations, Durban will ultimately be remembered not for what was discussed but what is delivered. The imperative to provide a tangible outcome to mitigate climate change must not be underestimated, nor should this opportunity be missed.
  • Gender Agenda at COP17 || Nagida Clark || www.symnews.org


    In a year of climate negotiations headed up by three women, expectations are high for Durban to deliver an outcome recognising the gender-sensitive impacts of climate change.

    COP17 President Maite Nkoana-Mashabane opened this year’s UN climate negotiations with a nod to a topic often overlooked in discussions on climate change. While talks are all too frequently plagued by the buzz concepts of emissions trading, carbon capture and feed-in tariffs, President Nkoana-Mashabane chose instead to talk about women.
    “We now have women leaders at the helm of this COP… It’s a very nice coincidence, so we will not miss this opportunity to make good use of this,” she said.
    As a topic rarely mentioned by the mainstream press and entirely absent from the Kyoto Protocol, one could be forgiven for not realising that climate change does not carry uniform consequences for all genders. Women, in particular, are already being disproportionately affected by climate change, with this disparity set to worsen as the climate crisis intensifies.
    COP17 itself has been brimming with gender-related activity. UN Women has formed a partnership with the Global Gender and Climate Alliance (GGCA), the Women’s Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO), Oxfam International and others. Gender equity is being strongly advocated as a key principle to be incorporated in any future climate agreements.
    The need for this approach is clear. Women and girls commonly hold the responsibility of providing climate-dependent household resources such as food, water and fuel wood. A 2009 UNFPA report found “The poor are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and the majority of the 1.5 billion people living on $1 a day or less are women”.
    While gender considerations require implementation at all levels of policy development, the key areas of adaptation, technology transfer and finance have emerged as gender priorities of COP17.
    The Green Climate Fund in particular presents a valuable opportunity to ensure gender-sensitive approaches to adaptation and financial distribution. The Draft Governing Instrument devised in Cancun last year contains five references to gender. Adopting these statements in Durban would be an important step towards addressing gender inequities both in the effects and solutions to climate change.
    As the negotiations continue amid pressure from diverse lobby and interest groups, the songs of empowerment flowing from the Women’s and Gender Caucus yesterday suggest issues climate gender inequities will be difficult to ignore at COP17.
  • Hot outside, icy on the inside: Day 2 at COP17 || Tim Hall || www.symnews.org


    The ominous feeling at COP17 continued on the second day, as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released a preliminary report finding 2011 was the tenth hottest year on record.
    Thirteen of the hottest years on record have now occurred in the last fifteen years.
    The lower temperatures than 2010 though are not a sign of cooling, with the warming masked by strong La Nina conditions, which has a cooling influence. Summer ice melt also saw sea ice decline to smallest volume on record, reaffirming the extreme warming. It was a point WMO secretary-general Michel Jarraud stressed, “It proves unequivocally that the world is warming and that this warming is due to human activities,”
    Negotiations on the second day partially heard his warnings. A pattern looking more and more like a coincidental coalition of Kyoto killers became more evident as countries begin engaging proper negotiations. The EU reaffirmed its position on a global legally binding treaty to be operational by 2020, and an eight year second commitment period to Kyoto—effectively meaning eight years of low ambition targets on emission reductions.
    Canada continued being a de facto leader of the Kyoto killers, opposing a second commitment period of Kyoto and refusing to confirm or deny allegations they plan to formally withdraw from Kyoto. The split between countries sharing Canada’s concern that curbing emissions could damage economic competitiveness and those that insist curbs necessary could potentially derail post Kyoto negotiations as Durban.
    The Alliance of small island states (AOSIS) insisted that any further delays on action would be unconscionable, promising, “We will not allow pressure from certain countries to seal the fate of the world for hundreds of years to come.”
    To overcome these differences, the Africa Group put forward proposals consisting of compromises to seal some loopholes and overcome some sticking points on the negotiations. They made the promise that they would not let African soil be the graveyard for the Kyoto Protocol, a clear statement showing the importance of the African COP to developing nations.
    This point was reiterated by the South African Environmental affairs minister, Edna Molewa, who called upon developed nations to show more leadership, saying the current levels of ambition won’t be enough to secure the future of the planet.
    Finally, Qatar was named the host the next round of climate negotiations, COP18/MOP8 in 2012, with South Korea to hold a ministerial conference in the lead up. While Qatar has become increasingly influential globally, being nicknamed the exclamation mark of the middle east, it’s has the highest per-capita emissions in the world, with an average 55 tonnes per person. Maybe a COP will clean them up over the next twelve months?
  • GCF: The hostage of the hero of Durban? || Tim Hall || www.symnews.org


    Today the Green Climate Fund makes its highly anticipated arrival at COP17. All year the financing issues begun at the 2009 Copenhagen COP15 have been a hot talking point. So what’s all the fuss about?
    Currently, the GCF is being held hostage as a bargaining chip to force a Durban package which suits certain interests, namely those that involves no Kyoto Protocol second commitment period. Today delegates will let the world know how serious they are about assisting developing nations in a changed climate.
    Proposed at Copenhagen, the GCF is intended as the operating entity of the financial mechanism to “support projects, programme, policies and other activities in developing countries related to mitigation”. The goal was $100 billion per year by 2020, to be raised from a “wide variety of sources”.
    After a 40 member Transitional Committee was appointed as part of the Cancun Agreements, work began immediately and four sessions were held over the last eight months.
    It was hoped the committee would be finalised and agree on the design and structure of GCF so work could begin on fund structure at Durban COP17.
    Unfortunately, this was not to be. The main opposition came from the USA (over legal status of GCF, relationship to COP, and role of private sector) and Saudi Arabia (over role of private sector and decision making procedures over the board). But there were also developing countries that were unhappy, such as the eight ALBA countries ( a small coalition of Latin American socialist states) and Egypt.
    Due to these objections, the Committee could not fulfil its task of adopting a report by consensus which goes to COP for approval. Instead, it only “considered” the report, meaning it will be sent to COP and the contentious issues will have to be negotiated again. This makes it unlikely that the GCF will start in 2012.
    This is counter to what would be best for developing nations, who are already in desperate need for money in the pot to curb emissions and adapt to changes. Developing countries further argue that the COP should serve as the supervisory body, rather than its current proposed form as a advisory body—due to the strength in numbers of the G77 at COP compared to the GCF Board. They also argue for grants instead of loans, to avoid additional debt, and are critical of the decision to appoint the World Bank as trustee of the funds, however pleased at the three year review of the trusteeship.
    Rumours at the negotiations are that the US will not block the presentation of the Transitional Committee’s report to the COP; however this means their and others concerns with the GCF as it stands will be voiced at the COP, potentially opening the dispute up to all nations.
    By opening it up at the COP, the GCF may find itself delayed for another year.
    As Liane Schalatek argues, a best case scenario could involve the fund being operational by next year, with current GCF governance being approved provisionally, while matters of procedure and guidelines continue to be developed.
    Practical problems also arise for developed nations, who must provide the funds to meet the commitment. One suggestion pushed by Oxfam and the WWF is a international carbon price on international shipping, which they estimate could provide up to $10billion per year. Other suggestions include Robin Hood taxes and Tobin taxes.
    Meanwhile, Climate Action Network (CAN) argues that what needs to be done at Durban is key decisions on the nature and the form of the GCF, and ensure dedicated funding windows are established for specific funding areas, such as adaptation and mitigation. They’re also pushing for adequate finance from 2013 onwards, including specific commitments for sources of finance 2013-2015, and want thorough transparency and civil society participation.
    Whatever happens today, the GCF will make for an interesting COP, one hopefully remembered for success. Durban cannot be defined by delay.
  • Willemien Calitz || Africa: On Fire From Space || www.symnews.org


    Thirty per cent of the Earth’s surface is affected by fire. Fire destroys forests and vegetations which are our sources of food – it is both a driver and an indicator of climate change.
    When biomass is burned, copious amounts of gases and particulate matter are released, billowing smoke plumes fill the sky, and entire ecosystems can change in seconds.
    “We’ve seen very saddening situations of fires, particularly in Africa, West America and the Amazon. Fires have been increasing, and have been responsible for thousands of citizens to be relocated. Enormous amounts of money have been spent on destroyed homes and property,” says Jimmy Adegoke, a climate scientist at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa. “Texas in the United States has experienced its record hottest summer this year with record heat waves, droughts and fires.”
    The rate of biomass burning is expected to increase in coming years, because climate change causes hotter and drier conditions. Additionally built-up material from repeated fire suppression provides ideal conditions for fires to burn strongly when they eventually break out.
    These fires can be seen from space. Using infrared images, satellites can view the hotspots and origin of fires through dark clouds of smoke which can’t be seen with the naked eye. In 2000, NASA launched two minibus-sized satellites, Terra and Aqua, with instruments called MODIS attached to them to scan the globe daily, looking specifically for fire ‘scars’.
    “In July I flew over the burning Amazon area in a 2000 kilometre smoke ball. The sun was dim and red and the sky was grey and black. Down here we think it’s bad, but if you see the fires from space, you see how bad it really is and how big the affected areas are,” says Piers Sellers, research scientist for National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
    “Fires change the characteristics of the ‘clouded south’. Fires affect the interaction between clouds, the sun and the Earth’s surface.” Clouds play an important role in the climate system – fire emissions change the colour and optical characteristics of clouds. Instead of acting as reflectors, clouds now have much more absorption qualities.
    “Solar radiation is either retained, reflected by clouds or enters the atmosphere. Mostly it warms the Earth’s surface, which can result in fires.” A high frequency of fire outbreaks causes dark burnt areas which increases the absorption power of heat of the Earth’s surface.
    “We are expecting a bigger release of carbon in the atmosphere due to fires,” Adegoke says. Plants grow and use CO₂ from the atmosphere to build and maintain biomass and remove CO₂.
    Burning coal, oil and natural gas transforms carbon from fossil pools created millions of years ago in the Earth’s atmosphere, and affects the climate and ecosystems.
    NASA satellites’ tracking of smoke plumes have clearly indicated that fires have a global effect, because their emissions get carried by wind currents.
    “The major sources of fires are localised at different times of the year, but the impacts are global.” CO₂ has gone up and down, but is ultimately increasing. This affects the Earth’s sustainability potential – the ability of ecosystems to support productivity, especially in north and mid-Africa.
    Fires lead to human suffering, poverty, frustration and wars on a regional and global scale. “These effects are aggravated by societies’ lack of interest in global change issues, non-participation in mitigation effort and more biomass burning for survival.”
    According to Adegeko, increased fire frequency is directly related to water and rainfall patterns. His current research looks closely at how this impacts on the seven African countries that rely on Lake Chad, which is drying up at an alarming rate. “40 years ago, it was the biggest lake in Africa, but now it is less than 20% what it used to be. This affects the livelihoods of 40 million African people.”
    Satellites help scientists track from space where fires are, how intense they are, and where emissions are going in the atmosphere. According to NASA waves of fires occur each year in Africa, starting in the north and moving down to the south. “Documenting fire patterns are important, because they make up a big part of the carbon budget,” Sellers says.
    “Beyond observing, the satellites provide information used to create early warning systems,” Adegoke says. Each year Eskom, which produces 95% of South Africa’s electricity and 70% of Africa’s electricity, experiences a substantial amount of down time on its transmission lines due to wildfires. “South Africa is a water scarce country and fire poses a real threat to their people and their biodiversity. South Africa is the third most naturally diverse country in the world.”
    South Africa’s geographical position gives them the advantage of being able to track satellites with an advanced capability, which has led to the development of the successful Advanced Fire Information System (AFIS).
    AFIS uses SMS alerts to disseminate critical information to fire brigades, farmers, energy providers and fire managers.
    “Not all fires are bad, some have a useful productive ecological function, but more needs to be done to manage human-induced fires,” Adegoke says. Sub-saharan Africa uses an agricultural method called ‘slash and burn’, an agricultural practice aimed at preparing land to grow crops quickly and efficiently in areas that were once forested. “A lot of unnecessary burning is done in this way and it has unintentional consequences.”
    Sellers believes solutions lie primarily with collaboration with local water management and applying their technology to developing countries. “If the African continent is viewed as one unit, it will help governments make better choices.”
    NASA is currently creating models to predict future fire outbreaks.
  • YOUNGO: It's Official || Tim Hall || www.symnews.org


    On the eve of international climate negotiations at COP17, the international youth climate movement received official recognition at the seventh Conference of Youth in Durban.
    YOUNGO, the constituency representing youth NGOs from around the world, was awarded full constituency status, increasing its influence within the climate negotiations.
    The status empowers young people at a time when youth involvement in combating climate change has never been more urgent.
    For Sebastien Duyck, who has been involved with YOUNGO from its inception at the 2007 Bali COP13, while the full status doesn’t come as a surprise, the decision is empowering for international youth.
    “The full status has a lot of symbolic value, and secures our future within the UNFCCC,” he said.
    The status secures a number of rights within the UNFCCC for young people, enabling them to engage more with the climate negotiations. YOUNGO will now officially be able to hold bilateral meetings with other official groups an d bodies within the convention, receive a speaking spot at the high level segment of the COP, more chances to make statements during plenaries and receive office space at COPs.
    This will all enable YOUNGO to give unique youth orientated feedback to parties of the convention on climate change.
    Previously, YOUNGO had been working under a provisional status, during which it had to prove to the rest of the UNFCCC and civil society that it could be a valuable and powerful force within the negotiations.
    While in practice, many of the full status privileges were already given to YONGO, the official recognition cements YOUNGO as part of the climate negotiations and eases logistical matters for the constituency.
    “Full status secures us, in that way it’s very empowering for young people,” he said.
    Duyk also expressed appreciation to the secretariat for the decision, saying they have been extremely supportive throughout the process.
    In a message to the YOUNGO constituency, young people were reminded that while being a full constituency brings more power, it does not mean less work. “If anything, it means that we will have to fight even harder, because now we have been given more power to.”
    YOUNGO has not been without its critics. Reviews after the Copenhagen COP15 negotiations highlighted concerns of the increasing institutionalization of the youth climate movement and the bureaucratic nature YOUNGO, with harshest critiques being the “naïve youth” unable to influence the ineffectual UNFCCC.
    However, as Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), acknowledged at the opening of COP17, recent successes of YOUNGO, including the widely applauded achievement of Article 6, capacity building achievements and actions pressuring national delegations, suggest the youth climate movement can influence climate negotiations.
  • Day 1: "It always seems impossible..." || Tim Hall || www.symnews.org


    Cop17 climate negotiations began with a flurry of urges and recommendations, though moves to kill Kyoto soured the first day.
    Quoting Nelson Mandela to invoke South Africa’s difficulty in defeating apartheid, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), reminded delegates that, ”it always seems impossible, until it is done.”
    The urgency of the moment was driven home with news that massive storms in the host city had flooded shack settlements, killing at least six and damaging countless homes. Most ominously the fierce storms also damaged the roof under which negotiators sat.
    Yet inside the conference the mood was soured by credible reports from CTV that Canada was planning to formally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol. While civil society admitted it didn’t come as a surprise, considering Canada’s poor record on combating climate change and their expanding tar sand oil production policies, the news represented a further move towards a death of the Kyoto protocol.
    The news on the opening morning of the COP however set a negative tone, with civil society highlighting the bad faith Canada now brings into negotiations. For it’s efforts, Canada picked up first and second prize for fossil of the day.
    The opening plenary was also tinged with sadness as delegates commemorated Mama Konate, former chair of the Subsidiary Body for Scinetific and Technologoical Advice, whose unexpectedly passed away on November 14th.
    “Let Durban be the place where parties will be able to work together. We owe this to the memory of our brother, Mama Konate,” said COP17 President Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
    Before handing over to Nkoana-Mashabane, last year’s COP16 President Patricia Espinosa called on delegates to take initiative and not wait for others.
    Espinosa outlined three goals for COP17, which involved the implementation of the Cancun Agreement, establishment of the Global Climate Fund (GCF) and creating a rules based system to complement agreements between countries.
    South African President Jacob Zuma, after arriving late to the session, urged delegates to fight for consensus, a point emphasized throughout the day.
    The future of the Kyoto Protocol was raised by a number of countries, with the EU insisting on negotiations for a global agreement to begin by 2015, and to be implemented by 2020. Some countries, like Australia, want a clear direction that a legally binding treaty will be adopted in 2015. Russia, Japan and Canada however have made clear they do not want a second commitment period to Kyoto. While the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter China described Kyoto as “a cornerstone of an international climate regime,” they are unlikely to agree to anything without the support of the United States.
    Christiana Figueres said the “vulnerable” need to be assured that tangible action is being taken for a safer future.
    It was a point reiterated by delegates from African nations. The representatives of the South African Development Community, Angola’s Vice President dos Santos and the representative of the Economic Community of Central African States, president of Chad, Idriss Déby, reaffirmed the impact climate change is having on developing nations, and emphasized the role of the developed countries in combating global warming.
    President Déby described how Lake Chad, a body of water upon which 20 million people rely, has shrunk to 10 per cent of its capacity.
    “Solidarity must be expressed between polluting developed and poor countries who are the victims of pollution,” Déby said.
    The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) also continued their push for a maximum 1.5°C warming, highlighting their vulnerability to climate change and pushing for urgent action at COP17.
    “If Durban puts off a legally binding agreement and closes the door on raising mitigation ambition before 2020 many of our small island states will be literally and figuratively doomed.”
    Non-governmental organisations say such an agreement will depend on delegates resisting delays overcoming existing hurdles—a sentiment unlikely to be helped by Canada’s defiance on Kyoto. But as President Zuma reminded delagtes, “With sound leadership nothing is impossible here in Durban.”
  • Critically Important || Julian Koschorke || www.symnews.org


    Copenhagen and Cancun were far from successes, the Kyoto Protocol is nearing expiration – Durban needs to deliver. It is therefore no surprise that the focus of the international media is on what the negotiators from the main parties have to say. The voice of the youth is often not heard. Even though it should be – at this COP more than ever.
    They sit in little circles on the floor in one of the conference rooms or outside, leaning against the wall. They are not wearing suits and ties; instead of the slow and complicated communication processes employed by the negotiators they are using hand signals, that to the inexperienced may seem confusing at first. Global youth organisations have come to Durban to change the traditions of the UN. Using alternative ways to get their message across does not, however, mean that they have anything less important to say. Far from it – since they do not have to stick to formal diplomatic palaver, they can say things as they are.
    To express their message, they often come from the other side of the world. Like Katherine Tu, who has come to Durban all the way from Australia, LJ from Singapore or Megan van Buskirk and Ashley Geddis from Canada. “The youth has a large presence, and they are very passionate about what they are doing,” says van Buskirk. Tu agrees: “It is really great to see lots of people from all over the world, from the Global North, the Global South, people with different genders and ethnicities, representing different issues and trying to make their voices heard.” “It is really inspiring,” LJ adds.
    Ahead of the opening of COP17 today, they had all gathered at Howard College in the hills above Durban to discuss their positions at the Conference of the Youth (COY). In different workshops and discussion groups, they established the different views on climate change and what ought to be done. “COY was a huge success, especially because of the establishment of a South African Youth Climate Coalition,” Tu recaps.
    The foundation of this coalition in a country from the Global South is part of a trend very present at this COP in Durban: many youth from developing countries have joined the international youth climate movement. “Last year in Cancun, there were only few African youth delegates and this year there is a giant representation from Africa,” says Buskirk.
    Jean Paul Brice Affana is one of those African representatives. He is from Cameroon and works as Focal Point for YOUNGO, a network of youth NGOs within the UNFCCC process. “The location of COP in South Africa allows a lot more people from Africa to participate,” he says. “It is great that they could all come here.”
    While they all agree on the importance of a strong African presence, they also agree that the traditional media coverage of the youth’s work is sparse. Also within the United Nations itself this has become a matter of interest. “I don’t think the youth presence is acknowledge by the press, journalists are looking for ‘hard news’. What the youth are doing is more, what journalists would call, ‘soft news,’” says Sarah Marchildon, a consultant on youth related activities for the UNFCCC. “I would love to see more focus in the media on what the young people are doing.”
    Marchildon believes that including the youth is critically important. “This conference has often become a bubble world, lacking the connection to the outside world. But you need the public. The youth are perfectly connected via social media. They are the ones building public pressure, which is crucial to achieve something.”
    The traditional media has almost not recognised this importance. Maybe because they have simply not realised or because their increasingly tight budgets forces them to focus on the outcomes of the conference. Now, however, would be the time to realise this overwhelming presence. Never before have so many youth from countries that are most effected by climate change attended a UNFCCC COP. Never before have the discussions and viewpoints on the floor in the conference buildings been so mixed. At this crucial point of the climate change negotiations it would be more necessary than ever to include those who will have to bear the effects of climate change, when today’s negotiators will not be around tomorrow.
  • Tim Hall || www.symnews.org

    Durban: What's the Down Low


    Standing ovations finished the Cancun COP16 climate negotiations. The echoes of the Cancun applause have now worn off, and it’s time for hard decisions to be made at COP17 in Durban, South Africa. While the urgency has never been greater, the hurdles are harder to clear.
    To a standing ovation, near consensus was reached on the final night of the COP16 despite Bolivia’s objections. The Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), widely seen as the only way to coordinate global action on climate change, had saved itself from irrelevance following the aftermath of Copenhagen. The catch-cry of the conference, “We cannot let the perfect become the enemy of the good,” was repeated time and time again by nations supporting the Cancun Agreement. After the cold bitter disappointment of Copenhagen, the warmth on the final night at Cancun was a welcome change to recent negotiations.
    But that warmth didn’t last long. Over the last twelve months, the Cancun Agreement has come under threat, and again the UNFCCC faces questions over its ability to act on the climate crisis.
    The Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012, leaving the world without a global treaty on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. No one expects a legally binding treaty for emission cuts to emerge at Durban. Countries such as Japan, Canada and Russia do not want a second commitment period of Kyoto.
    A breakthrough such as a global treaty emerging from Durban is highly unlikely. Instead, realists are pushing for a strong mandate and roadmap for a new global treaty, much like the 2007 Bali Road Map; a process which led to the broken hope at the Copenhagen negotiations. Durban is aiming for an agreement by 2015 for implementation by 2018, or later agreement as nations such as the UK are advocating. In designing such a mandate, nations need to overcome the faults and conflicts of the Bali and Copenhagen negotiations, to prevent a repeat of Copenhagen when it will be too late.
    The Green Climate Fund (GCF), a $100 billion per year fund established to help developing countries move to clean energy, has hit a roadblock with the USA and Saudi Arabia. Currently the GCF is an “empty shell”, with a transitional committee set up at Cancun unable to reach consensus on the how such a fund would operate.
    Parties at COP17 can approve the recommendations of the transnational committee, and establish funds for the GCF as soon as possible. If they don’t, the GCF must go back to the wider COP, where it will be open to ongoing scrutiny, thus holding it down for another year. Questions still linger over the trustee of the fund, currently nominated as the World Bank and the role of private entities.
    All this is being negotiated in the context of numerous major reports from NGOs warning of ever increasing dangers of climate change and the reactionary responses, this year featuring the Climate Gate 2.0 email leaks. Yet despite the usual politicising of climate science, the urgency of Durban is clear—the usually conservative International Energy Agency recently reported that a lack of a global enforceable treaty on climate change by 2017 would greatly increase the risks of dangerous levels of global warming.
    While the unresolved issues of a post-Kyoto agreement and the GCF will come to define Durban COP17, there are many essential decisions nations need to make in order to effectively combat climate change. Durban is a crucial turning point for the world. The opportunities to continue the global rapturous applause which ended Cancun cannot be missed at Durban. No longer is it just the UNFCCC process at stake. The future of enforceable global action on climate change and the clean development of the majority world are on the line. Durban cannot be about delay. Too much is at stake.
  • Willemien Calitz || www.symnews.org


    The current pattern of climate change can be compared to a house that’s burning. We’ve been gathering at conferences for seventeen consecutive years to negotiate on how to put out the flames, or at the very least keep the house from being burnt completely. Our friends, families and possessions are blazing inside the house, while often we spend more time trying to pinpoint who started the fire. Pretty soon there will be no house – the “greenhouse” will not serve the next generation.
    Climate change unquestionably affects our people and by working together towards sustainability, we can reduce these effects. The term sustainability is complex, especially to those of us in developing countries to whom it has become a popular and vital, yet vague term. Most of us speak English as a second or even third language and have no concrete comparative for sustainability in our home languages. Yet, we know we are promoting it, because it is unmistakably the heroine in our fight against climate change.
    To some intellectuals, striving towards sustainability means changes at a grand scale – switching to renewable energy, making use of carbon trade, reducing greenhouse gases, promoting a green economy and negotiating at the 17th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Durban, South Africa from 28 November to 9 December 2011.
    For those at the grassroots level, striving towards sustainability means simpler changes and smaller wins – fighting for a reality free from droughts, floods, disasters, unexpected temperatures and crop failures. COP17 coming to Africa at this time brings the hope of finding climate justice.
    Why justice? It is predominantly people in developing countries who truly experience variability and climate change. They are on the front lines of change but ironically contribute the least to its causes, such as greenhouse gas emissions.
    Zambia tormented by floods
    World Bank Country Director Kunda Kadiresan emphasized that floods and droughts are negatively affecting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly MDG 1: The reduction of poverty and hunger at a global level. “200 million people are affected by climate change. 300 000 people in Zambia live below the poverty line due to climate change,” she said. “While 75 percent of Africans rely on agriculture, approximately 196 million hectares of the land in Africa is degraded.”

    The people of Zambia, like many in other developing countries, are severely affected by the consequences of changing weather patterns. In Changing Rains poor urban planning expose Zambian capital to repeat of 2010 floods, rains in Africa are heavier and fall at different times, while dry periods are growing longer in some regions, wreaking havoc on agriculture.
    “Soil and rain are quality inputs you have little to no control over. Climate change is about volatility – a farmer banking everything on one crop, one he sees an investment, depends on his ability to be able to predict what the weather will do and won’t do, because it directly affects both his income and food security,” says Leisa Perch, Policy Specialist in Rural and Social Development at the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth.
    Earning a decent living from herding or agriculture in a time of unpredictable and unreliable weather patterns is becoming harder, and urban areas often promise alternative incomes. In search of job opportunities and better schooling, people in developing countries “migrate to cities from the countryside, crowd into small areas of land and build unpermitted homes,” which causes them to “block drainage routes with rubbish,” Kambandu wrote.
    “About 60 percent of Lusaka’s population lives in compounds or townships, where small, self-built houses crowd against each other, where there are no indoor plumbing or sewerage facilities and where many residents get electricity through unauthorised connections.”
    When there are floods, unimaginable living conditions are created in these vulnerable compounds, as Lusaka saw in 2010 and again in 2011. “Water rose above the window levels of many houses, strong currents carried away pieces of market stalls and boys hoisted fishing nets to catch whatever they could from the gullies where, not long before, they had walked to school,” Kambandu wrote.
    Because of insufficient or unaffordable infrastructure, residents have to use outdoor pit latrines and rubbish pits, which are flooded during heavy rains, causing the spread of diseases such as malaria and cholera. “Impaired or inconsistent environmental health will start to impact on you and your productivity,” Perch says.
    According to Perch one of the solutions to the social problems of climate change is ensuring adequate investment in social adaptation and solutions. “The balance of funding between adaptation and mitigation and the level of investment in each becomes important. It is in adaptation that more visible efforts tend to be made on social issues associated with climate change.” About 65.6 percent of funding currently goes towards climate change mitigation.
    Will solutions focused on the poor be taken into account during the negotiations at COP17? And, if there is “a very real suffering of the near one billion people who wake up hungry each day as a result of the environmental damage we have caused,” as Jason Drew explains in his book, The Protein Crunch, why are we still negotiating?

  • The current pattern of climate change can be compared to a house that’s burning. We’ve been gathering at conferences for seventeen consecutive years to negotiate on how to put out the flames, or at the very least keep the house from being burnt completely. Our friends, families and possessions are blazing inside the house, while often we spend more time trying to pinpoint who started the fire. Pretty soon there will be no house – the “greenhouse” will not serve the next generation.
    Climate change unquestionably affects our people and by working together towards sustainability, we can reduce these effects. The term sustainability is complex, especially to those of us in developing countries to whom it has become a popular and vital, yet vague term. Most of us speak English as a second or even third language and have no concrete comparative for sustainability in our home languages. Yet, we know we are promoting it, because it is unmistakably the heroine in our fight against climate change.
    To some intellectuals, striving towards sustainability means changes at a grand scale – switching to renewable energy, making use of carbon trade, reducing greenhouse gases, promoting a green economy and negotiating at the 17th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Durban, South Africa from 28 November to 9 December 2011.
    For those at the grassroots level, striving towards sustainability means simpler changes and smaller wins – fighting for a reality free from droughts, floods, disasters, unexpected temperatures and crop failures. COP17 coming to Africa at this time brings the hope of finding climate justice.
    Why justice? It is predominantly people in developing countries who truly experience variability and climate change. They are on the front lines of change but ironically contribute the least to its causes, such as greenhouse gas emissions.
    Zambia tormented by floods
    World Bank Country Director Kunda Kadiresan emphasized that floods and droughts are negatively affecting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly MDG 1: The reduction of poverty and hunger at a global level. “200 million people are affected by climate change. 300 000 people in Zambia live below the poverty line due to climate change,” she said. “While 75 percent of Africans rely on agriculture, approximately 196 million hectares of the land in Africa is degraded.”

    The people of Zambia, like many in other developing countries, are severely affected by the consequences of changing weather patterns. In Changing Rains poor urban planning expose Zambian capital to repeat of 2010 floods, rains in Africa are heavier and fall at different times, while dry periods are growing longer in some regions, wreaking havoc on agriculture.
    “Soil and rain are quality inputs you have little to no control over. Climate change is about volatility – a farmer banking everything on one crop, one he sees an investment, depends on his ability to be able to predict what the weather will do and won’t do, because it directly affects both his income and food security,” says Leisa Perch, Policy Specialist in Rural and Social Development at the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth.
    Earning a decent living from herding or agriculture in a time of unpredictable and unreliable weather patterns is becoming harder, and urban areas often promise alternative incomes. In search of job opportunities and better schooling, people in developing countries “migrate to cities from the countryside, crowd into small areas of land and build unpermitted homes,” which causes them to “block drainage routes with rubbish,” Kambandu wrote.
    “About 60 percent of Lusaka’s population lives in compounds or townships, where small, self-built houses crowd against each other, where there are no indoor plumbing or sewerage facilities and where many residents get electricity through unauthorised connections.”
    When there are floods, unimaginable living conditions are created in these vulnerable compounds, as Lusaka saw in 2010 and again in 2011. “Water rose above the window levels of many houses, strong currents carried away pieces of market stalls and boys hoisted fishing nets to catch whatever they could from the gullies where, not long before, they had walked to school,” Kambandu wrote.
    Because of insufficient or unaffordable infrastructure, residents have to use outdoor pit latrines and rubbish pits, which are flooded during heavy rains, causing the spread of diseases such as malaria and cholera. “Impaired or inconsistent environmental health will start to impact on you and your productivity,” Perch says.
    According to Perch one of the solutions to the social problems of climate change is ensuring adequate investment in social adaptation and solutions. “The balance of funding between adaptation and mitigation and the level of investment in each becomes important. It is in adaptation that more visible efforts tend to be made on social issues associated with climate change.” About 65.6 percent of funding currently goes towards climate change mitigation.
    Will solutions focused on the poor be taken into account during the negotiations at COP17? And, if there is “a very real suffering of the near one billion people who wake up hungry each day as a result of the environmental damage we have caused,” as Jason Drew explains in his book, The Protein Crunch, why are we still negotiating?
  • 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?”
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