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
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addresses the high-level opening plenary session.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addresses the high-level opening plenary session.

Today 12 heads of state and 130 ministers arrived for the official start of the high-level segment of COP17. Pulling overtime shifts during the first week and through Monday night, the subsidiary bodies and first week negotiators have worked to get “clean” (i.e. largely non-bracketed text) options together for the big guns to ultimately decide on.

The opening plenary address for the high-level segment had speeches by South African President Jacob Zuma, Prince Albert II of Monaco, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, and other heads of state, but it was UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who made the most unexpected comments during…

On Creativity

by Chris Colvin

The famous Einstein’s quote “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” makes a lot of sense in the context of climate change. In fact, creativity is a key element in finding solutions and agreements to stop the warming of our world. Creativity to find alternative sources of energy, creativity to implement efficient policies on the ground, and creativity to put aside self interests for benefit of the common welfare is the way. We can easily get bored and apathetic while listening to the never ending negotiations and reading texts full of…

From COP13 to COP17

A year and a half ago, I traveled to Bali and Lombok with a friend and fell in love with the people, culture, and beauty of these Indonesian islands. With about 13,000 islands, there is a whole galaxy left to explore. But, since I’m not sure when I’ll make it back, I decided to stop by the Indonesia Pavilion this morning to recharge among warm people and check out what the Indonesians are doing to address climate change.

I was in for a treat. The Indonesia delegation was hosting a welcoming ceremony with music and dancing that accompanied remarks from the heads of the delegation and the environmental ministers from Indonesia and Japan. This is Indonesia’s first pavilion since hosting COP13 in Bali in 2007 so they were proud to have a prominent presence in…

India started yesterday´s conference by reminding everyone how seriously they take Climate Change “We believe in Climate Change, and we also believe that the world needs to cut emissions drastically”. Maybe they did this to contrast the opinion of other politicians from developed countries who resist swallowing the big climate truth that the scientific community puts on their tables, or maybe it was to win environmentalists´ heart…
India did not want to leave anything behind on this conference, and took the opportunity very seriously to launch a message to the world: they should be considered as “good guys” in the climate debate. After reminding everyone that Climate negotiations are falling apart (just in case we had not read the news lately) and that emissions are increasing in almost all countries…

Press briefing on the launch of the United Nations Environmental Programme report on "Bridging the Emissions Gap". (Photo by Maya Breitburg-Smith)

Press briefing on the launch of the United Nations Environment Programme report on "Bridging the Emissions Gap". (Photo by Maya Breitburg-Smith)

A new and timely synthesis report of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was formally launched at COP17 today, giving those concerned with our world’s future both new reason for hope and a new mandate for action.  The report regards the gap between existing reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and the actual reductions that are needed to achieve the UNFCCC’s goal of keeping global temperature increases below 2°Celsius.

The conclusion of the report is that the gap between actual reductions and needed reductions is widening.  In the words of the UNEP Executive Director Achim…