I’m sure you have all read about the recent Durban and Rio conferences this past month, and the different perspectives on the numerous side events and meetings we were all able to attend. The role of health is crucial in both the Conference of Parties climate debate, as well as The Rio Earth Summit on Sustainable Development. In Durban, humanitarian aid organizations and non-governmental health organizations have a prominent role. The Red Cross chaired the humanitarian council this year, to tackle these issues and integrate human health impacts into the roll of climate change. There is clear science and research from the IPCC and other independent and university affiliations about the strong correlation between health and climate change, ranging from the rising seas, increasing natural disasters, and correlation to infectious…

As I sat working Saturday evening 10:00EST (5AM Durban time), this e-mail came in over the YaleDurban listerv from Sébastien Jodin, Trudeau Scholar & SSHRC Fellow at FES.
I forwarded it around at the time, but was waiting for his approval to post.  It provides a good recap of the Durban deal.
“COP-17 in Durban has just ended with the adoption of decisions under both the UNFCCC and the KP. Progress was made on a number of issues, with the main highlights being as follows:
-an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol for a second commitment period for some states from 2013 to 2017, with many issues to be resolved on the transition between commitment periods;
-the operationalisation of the green climate fund; and
-the launch of an Ad Hoc Working Group

Dr. Hussein Farah is the Director General of the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) based in Nairobi, Kenya.  It is an inter-governmental organization with 18 member states that provides geo-information for environment and resources management in eastern Africa.

Dr. Farah has a PhD in Water Resources Surveys from the University of Wageningen and the International Institute for Aerospace Surveys and Earth Sciences in The Netherlands.  He also holds a master’s in geography from the University of Waterloo, Canada and bachelor’s of science in surveying and photogrammerty from the University of Nairobi.  He has extensive experience in land surveying and mapping for environmental management.  Dr. Farah has lead the RCMRD for six years.


The Ring of Fire is ablaze with the new carbon trading schemes sweeping around the Pacific Rim. New Zealand is home to the first mandatory trading scheme outside of the EU, and the governments of both California and Australia have recently approved trading programs that will become operational in the coming years. Japan, which is pulling out of the Kyoto agreements in 2012, has been proposing the widespread adoption of bilateral carbon offset mechanisms for countries no longer part of those agreements, and at the municipal level, both Tokyo and Saitama are experimenting with urban carbon markets. Meanwhile, China and South Korea have plans to scale out national emissions trading schemes by 2015 as well.

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…