One of the little things that’s surprised me about the negotiations is the use of technology – you might imagine that we have fancy resources. But that is not the case, at least for the G77+China (the group of “developing” countries). We use googlegroups to coordinate efforts, and gmail and hotmail email addresses are standard. It’s incredibly hard to find power outlets here at the conference center, which definitely poses a challenge to those of us without iPads or extra batteries. Many people (from all countries) still work with pen and paper…

Some interesting remarks coming out of delegates in this afternoon’s working group meetings on the Ad-Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) negotiating track:

Democratic Republic of Congo: “Africa Group will not allow the African soil to be the graveyard of the Kyoto Protocol”

New Zealand (echoing the DRC): “New Zealand agrees Durban should not be the tomb of the KP”

Australia:  A provisional application of the Kyoto Protocol “will not provide the certainty parties are looking for and may also face constitutional impediments” in many of the member states.

EU (driving the point home): “A second commitment period without enough parties participating is clearly insufficient to solve problem of climate change.”

China: “We are not clear…

7:00a Breakfast
Breakfast 7:00a Breakfast in Ballito

8:15a The walk

From our hotel, we walk to catch the COP’s official shuttle service from the suburb of Ballito into Durban.

Scene 8:45a The View

Although the shuttle commute takes about an hour, it gives us a chance to see the lovely scenery of KwaZulu-Natal.

Line 9:20a The Line

We make our way through the security line…

At the heart of COP17 in Durban is how countries will respond to and cope with climate change. For the most part the discussions will centre on technological and economical policies and implications. However, the health care impacts of climate change tend be overlooked. The health care impacts of climate change do not receive as much attention because they are difficult to study and they also affect the most marginalized populations in developing countries. This semester, I’ve been able to learn first hand about the humanitarian consequences of climate change working with the Red Cross Red Crescent through the FES 850a International Organizations and Conferences course at Yale.

Through my collaboration with the Red Cross Red Crescent, I’ve appreciated how we are only starting to understand the how climate…

Katy Clark and I studied the issue of REDD+ and its implications for indigenous rights as we evaluated a joint project currently being implemented by the Coordinator for the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Environmental Defense Fund and the Woods Hole Research Center.

Deforestation, conversion of forests to other uses, and forest degradation currently cause about 15% of annual global carbon emissions. REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) is a program under negotiation at the COP that is a mechanism for wealthy countries to pay for efforts in developing countries to reduce rates of deforestation. REDD appears to offer one of the few good chances for agreement at Durban that most countries would…

South Africa music and dance

Kudos to the South African conference organizers for putting together a wonderful venue and performance at last night’s opening reception, which was held in Durban’s City Hall. It was a great opportunity to network, but also to enjoy ourselves and get immersed in South African culture.

South Africa music and dance

South Africa music and dance

Personally, I greatly enjoyed talking to Dr. Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. However, “Pachi” — as he is warmly referred to — was noticeably disappointed at the lack of science on the opening day. Opening-day meetings were all about politics, not science. Dr. Pachauri will be addressing conference attendees on Wednesday Dec 30th. I also…

The LDC, or least developed country, negotiating bloc delivered its opening remarks yesterday at the COP17 plenary.  Speaking on behalf of the forty-nine least developed countries in the world, the delegate from The Gambia noted the devastating effects climate change has already had on the most vulnerable members of the world population over the past twenty years.

The number of floods has more than doubled over the past decade among LDC countries.  Meanwhile, droughts are occurring with greater intensity and much more unpredictably.  According to the delegate, thousands have died and thousands more may share a similar fate if parties do not act.

The consequences of inaction regarding climate change, he noted, will be “catastrophic to our countries and our peoples.”  Most poignantly, he called all nations, not…

As I sat yesterday afternoon and watched negotiating blocs deliver their opening remarks to the opening plenary of the 17th annual UN Conference of Parties on Climate Change (COP17), a clear picture began to emerge: parties were there to point fingers, not create solutions.

The delegate from Argentina spoke first, representing the G77+China group, a conglomerate that consists of  (in spite of the name) 132 self-described developing nations plus China.  She declared that “although developing countries have not contributed to the creation of the problem, they continue to suffer worst.”  She continued along this theme, noting that developing countries have already done their part to address the problem of climate change, calling for a renewal of the Kyoto Protocol, and making promises to negotiate “constructively…

Durban’s first day of negotiations was a fight for framing the debate – who is not doing their share? How much time do we have to reach a long term agreement? Was the Cancun agreement a huge success or rather just a stepping stone?
Umbrella group, representing The US, Canada and other developed nations described a reality of relative success post Cancun, with a challenge of implementation and widening the circles of participation in emission reduction through it. While they did not claim that time was in abundance, US negotiator Jonathan Pershing’s estimation that a long term agreement would not happen until 2020 illustrated de facto acceptance of he pace negotiations have been conducted. Reciprocity was also key issue – we cannot move ahead until all emitting parties are seriously…