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Dickinson to Durban » Climate Change » Welcome to Durban: a world of uncertainty

Welcome to Durban: a world of uncertainty

By: Maggie Rees

20,000 people, 75 degrees, interviews, meetings, and more meetings.  Durban is certainly overwhelming and exciting.  It’s so funny how we are right in the middle of all the action and still have no idea what’s actually going on.  Times like these you realize how essential press briefings are.  Yesterday, November 28, 2011, I attended a press briefing by Climate Action Network International (CAN).  Along with CAN, Oxfam, World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) International, and the Union of Concerned Scientists were in attendance.  Discussed were the main concerns for this years COP.

Tim Gore, from Oxfam, brought up the fretfulness of food production, particularly in Africa and areas such as Afghanistan.  With an increase in extreme weather events flooding poses a severe problem for food production.  Cattle are dying, crops are not sustaining, and food cannot be produced.  Just two nights ago in Durban, there were fatalities due to excessive flooding.

Along with this, Tasneem Essop from WWF International described her thoughts about what needs to be accomplished in Durban this year.  Tasneem is mostly hoping for certainty: certainty in actions, a timeline, finances, etc.  With risk of losing the Kyoto Protocol it is essential to have assurance in a next move for climate negotiations.  A legally binding agreement with a strong timeline is what it would take.  Something with assured finances, like the Green Climate Fund, is necessary.  However, it needs to be known where the money is coming from, how much money there is, and what it will be used for.  Loopholes need to be eliminated.  Countries should not be able to weasel their way out of agreements or emission reductions.  If all else fails, an adaptations committee is essential.  Before it is too late, countries need proper adaptation strategies.

The Union of Concerned Scientists was in agreement.  According to representative Alden Meyer, this is possibly the most unpredictable COP yet.  There is so much uncertainty lingering around, it is impossible to give expectations or predictions about what might happen.  Kyoto is obviously one of the main volatile aspects.  Will there be a new Kyoto? Will it wither away?  Is there another approach, such as bottom-up?  There are so many questions, and have yet to be answers.  The main developed countries are ultimately the deciding factor.

Among all the confusion, unpredictability, and franticness, it seems that I am not the only person that is uncertain about what is going on.  But it was only the first day…there is still much learning to do, on all accounts.

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