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…

Ms. Tina Joemat-Pettersson, Minister of Agriculture SA, at the opening plenary of Forest day 5

Ms. Tina Joemat-Pettersson, Minister of Agriculture SA, at the opening plenary of Forest day 5 © Theodore Varns

Forest day celebrated its fifth birthday at COP 17. This year’s event was centered on discussions on how forests can be better harnessed to slow the pace of global warming and help communities adapt to the changing environment. The theme was from Policy to Practice with a particular focus on the

Here's to the volunteers

Durban City Hall

We’d like to give a shout out to the host city Volunteers of COP17 who have rounded out our experience of navigating this conference and downtown Durban with added cheer and comfort.  Amongst thousands of scurrying diplomats, activists, and bureaucrats, the volunteers remain enthusiastic, helpful, and calm. As Dani said, “they are actors too” and I think she’s right.

The host city volunteers are students, retirees, and local citizens who can be found just about everywhere. More than once, I’ve been pulled aside by a volunteer who read my confused face and just knew “that girl needs some help”….with finding specific meetings among countless conference rooms or procuring a translation…

So what comes into your mind when you think about climate change adaptation?
For most people, I would guess, we think about the poorest people who are threatened by sea level rise, flood and drought.
But can a global facility like the Green Climate Fund truly reach those people?
I doubt it. In fact, my doubt is growing as I spend more and more time in Durban these days, which I didn’t even expect, to be honest.
My first shock on this issue came when I sat in a side event called “who’s financing climate change?”, where I first heard that only about 10% of the World Bank money can actually reach the poorest people. 10%, can you believe it? I didn’t even believe it in the beginning, until