COP 17 is Underway!

The 17th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has begun.  COP17/CMP7 officially got underway this morning in Durban South Africa but the Yale crew attending the conference got underway on Friday.

We arrived at the Ballito Life Hotel on Sunday Nov 27th at 5:40 PM.  For me this was  47 hours after leaving New Haven.  The total air time was just over 18 hours with a short layover in Amsterdam and a night spent in Johannesburg.  After getting some food I did a little work on my Sustainable Development final paper, which is due this Thursday, and went to bed. I got up at 5:35AM to go for a short run.  Our hotel is an hour bus ride from the COP 17 conference center and we needed to be on the shuttle this morning by 8AM in order to arrive in time to attend the Welcoming Ceremony and  opening meetings.  The shuttle stop is a 15 minute walk from our hotel and we were running a little late but thanks to some energetic arm waving and quick foot work we got the drive to wait for us.  We all arrived at the conference center in time to see the opening of COP17/CMP7.

Opening remarks were delivered by Patricia Espinosa of Mexico and the outgoing President of COP16.CMP6; Ms. Nkoana-Mashabane of South Africa and the incoming President of COP17/CMP7; Jacob Zuma, the President of the Republic of South Africa; Christina Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC; and Idriss Deby the President of Chad who represented the Economic Community of Central African States.  The opening remarks attempted to set a tone of optimism for what can be accomplished at this conference.  This optimism was demonstrated when Executive Secretary Figueres quoted former South African President Mandela as saying “it always seems impossible until it is done.”

The tasks for this 17th Conference of the Parties are indeed BIG and include both finishing the tasks left over from Cancun and answering the key political questions with remained unanswered after COP 16. Over the next two weeks more then 25 thousand people form all over the wold and from every conceivable background will on; making the Green Climate Fund operational, launching the Adaptation Committee, defining the guidelines for ongoing monitoring and reporting, and many other important issue.

For More Information or to Follow the Progress of COP17/CMP7: