Figueres Calls for a Global Business Plan for Governments, but the Private Sector Won't Wait

The UN delegates are bracing themselves for a long night — and possibly morning — as the world awaits concrete deliverables from Durban. Christiana Figueres, at a high level side event on UN coordination last Wednesday, suggested that the UNFCCC process was the attempt of 200 governments “to write a global business plan,” and that “unlike the private sector that needs all the details clarified before they will act, the governments here are moving despite the risks towards the public good.” Ms. Figueres was also confident that the legacy of Durban would be the adoption of an operational plan for the Green Climate Fund. It is expected that the fund will need to rely on private-public partnerships in order to achieve its target of 100 billion dollars of new funds (beyond regular aid budgets) for developing countries engaged in climate-compatible development by 2020.


Environmental leadership exercises for teenagers involve games. There is a game where 20 teenagers attempt to stabilize a giant seesaw with only one person allowed to speak.  There is a game where students attempt to steal a toy from behind the back of the leader and move it over a line 100 feet away without the leader identifying the thief.  There is a game that involves each group member walking across a rope 2 feet off the ground.  These games are designed to build unity, teach cooperation, consensus, teamwork and communication skills.

Yet one of the most effective games teaches none of these important values.  Dubbed “Primal Scream” the game starts with all participants staring at the ground.  On the speedy count of three, they…

It’s Friday, December 9th – the last day, ostensibly, of the COP17.
Is a new legally-binding instrument between all major emitters to reduce greenhouse gas emissions forthcoming?  Will there be agreement to extend the Kyoto Protocol into a second commitment period?  Will countries increase their emission reduction ambitions?  Most people you ask say no.
There’s a lot of consternation in the halls today, with the early cynics sitting smug outside the locked press-room doors.  And conspiracy theories abound.  The South African leadership’s unwillingness to take a strong hand in these negotiations belies deft back-room negotiations.  That high-level meeting that started late last night?  That was “delayed” because a secret shadow text was being drafted. Et cetera.
What IS clear is that this conference is not

By: Hayley Fink and Grant Tolley

The United States says over and over that it wants to “fully operationalize the Cancun Agreements”. The US negotiators phrase their position as if to say: we need to finish what we started last year; we need to do this right, before we can move on. Sounds reasonable.

But does full implementation of the Cancun Agreements preclude the adoption of a legally binding agreement? By focusing on Cancun, the US downplays its position on mitigation commitments in Durban. While the Cancun Agreements represent progress on a variety of issues and solidified voluntary mitigation pledges from Copenhagen (which are not legally binding), these actions do not ensure that the world will reduce emissions at the extraordinary rate

© Rita Effah

© Rita Effah

Yesterday while having lunch I saw a young Dutch boy and his sister with this T-shirt on that read at the back “ I am fighting for my future! What are you here for! This had me thinking through the night about 30, 000 people  or so here from all over the world. The people of Johannesburg are wondering, why are they all going to Durban to see 17 cops/policemen according to President Zuma of South Africa.  This morning as I walk through the exhibition center, it reminds me of a Ghanaian market place, but without people screaming come and buy fish/vegetables etc. At this COP 17 market place, merchants are showing…

Yale F&ES students meet with Maldivian national delegation

Ever since arriving at F&ES over a year ago, I heard in more than one occasion that the participation of Yale F&ES students at COP meetings was a joke and that our contributions were minimal. The money should be put to better use some would say. Stay home and prevent a large number of GHG emissions from student travel was another argument. I must admit I largely agreed with these statements–until now.

Having prepared myself for the COP by interning at the Papua New Guinea UN Mission this Fall, and now almost two weeks into COP17, my views have changed. There are ~15 of us supporting the delegation of the Maldives and that of Afghanistan. In this capacity, I see very clearly how our presence adds value to the…

Why don’t Americans take climate change as seriously as everyone else?

“The present U.S. position of no new agreement until post- 2020 is really blowing negotiations apart,” Papua New Guinea’s chief climate delegate, Kevin Conrad, said.

“We can’t wait for the U.S.,” Italian Environment Minister Corrado Clini said.

‘It is a betrayal not just of small island nations, many of whom would be destined for extinction, but a betrayal of all humanity. There are no plausible technical, economic or legal impediments for not taking the actions required by science,” said Ambassador Dessima Williams, Permanent Representative of Grenada to the United Nations and Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States.

In the corridors here at COP17, a negotiator for the US delegation gave 3 reasons Americans don’t want the Obama administration to…

The EU is learning the hard way that the way to make friends at climate negotiations is to support the Kyoto Protocol and its obligatory emissions reductions, and the way to make enemies is to actually do something to reach Kyoto Protocol targets. The EU’s Aviation Directive is a proposal to include the carbon emissions associated with international aviation flights under its emission trading scheme (ETS), to start in January next year. And it has met with opposition from China, the U.S., Japan, and dozens of other countries, not to mention a suit by U.S. Airlines and their trade association in the European Court of Justice, set to be decided on December 21 (A preliminary opinion from the court has already indicated that it thinks the Directive is…

A CEBA nursery.

F&ES is staying true to it principles of sustainability and environmental justice by offsetting the greenhouse gas emissions that will be generated by the entire Yale delegation through the official COP17 offset program: CEBA.

The Durban CEBA Initiative is a partnership between the eThekwini Municipality and The Wildlands Conservation Trust aimed at uplifting local communities by creating ‘green’ jobs for the poor and unemployed, restoring the ecosystems that are important to the welfare of these communities, and reducing collective vulnerability to climate change.

Each CEBA credit purchased employs one local community member for a day to undertake a range of climate protection work, such as invasive alien plant (IAP) clearing, ecosystem restoration, or community recycling. This work is directed towards both reducing climate change impacts through carbon sequestration…