Maya Tickell Painter
I’m not sure about you, but I am definitely the type of person who will only really get down to a piece of work once a deadline is looming. Whilst this is a frequent cause of frustration amongst my friends and tutors, being in Durban has shown me that apparently this style of working is also shared by the environmental ministers of 194 countries. Every year, countries leave the ‘real’ negotiations to a frantic dash during the last 24 hours, and Durban has so far been no exception. Rumours are abounding of talks continuing until Saturday evening or possibly even Sunday. Journalists and ministers are frantically searching for new flights home (according to John Vidal, the Indian delegation have already changed their flights), and security staff are being asked to extend contracts and do extra overtime.
The outcome of these talks is still far from clear…
Whilst we’re waiting, I wanted to share a couple of exciting things which happened earlier in the day.
Firstly, the video which Medsin-UK produced (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVPpptOTAmk) has been receiving an incredibly exciting level of media coverage- and has so far been tweeted by Caroline Lucas, Bianca Jaeger and featured on the Guardian’s live blog- http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/dec/09/durban-climate-change-talks-cop17-live?fb=native#block-15.
Second, and probably most importantly, today was the day that environmental and youth NGOs decided to take a stand against the lack of progress during the talks. Whilst it’s very easy to quip about missing deadlines, it’s also alarming to discover the extent to which country delegations behave like teenagers: they get stroppy and call each other names, make up poor excuses for not getting work done (e.g. China and the USA playing the world’s most dangerous game of ‘chicken’ in regards to who will cut emissions first), and put work off until it’s far too late (e.g. current proposals to put off a legally binding emissions reduction deal until 2020).
But now it’s getting beyond a joke. Putting off an emissions reduction deal until 2020 will mean that we will be unable to avoid a global increase in temperatures of 2 degrees, and a looking at a fairly realistic chance of a 6 degree increase.
Therefore, today civil society held a long protest in the lobby of the conference centre. Ministers from the small island states joined us, and made it clear that they would not accept a deal which resulted in their countries literally vanishing under water. Technically, all protests have to be identified 24 hours in advance, and can have a maximum of 15 people involved. Therefore, several protesters were evicted from the venue (despite the peaceful nature of the action), and will not be able to return to see the remainder of the talks.
It’s too early to say what the outcome of these talks will be. But I for one was proud to stand up and make sure my voice was heard.