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Dickinson to Durban » Climate Change, Environmental Justice, Environmental Politics, Featured, Key COP17 Issues, Mosaic Action, Student Research » COP17 Outcomes: A Feminist Perspective

COP17 Outcomes: A Feminist Perspective

Claire Tighe ’13

During our travels in the week following the COP17 conference in Durban, many of the people we met asked us about the outcomes of the meeting. I was particularly discouraged by the time that I reached the Dulles airport in Washington, D.C. when a American youth who had just spent her semester in the southern African region asked what the outcome was and if it was suitable to us. With my tongue in my cheek I muttered, “Depends on who you ask.” If you ask Todd Stern, one of the leading negotiators for the United States delegation, you will find that ” ‘the Durban outcome was a very significant and to some extent surprising outcome,’” and that “ ‘more was accomplished than people anticipated and certainly more than anybody thought at the beginning of the conference.’ ”

While we’re at it, let’s see what the feminist constituency thought of the COP17 outcome. The following is a statement from the GenderCC newsletter stating their views on the COP17 results:

The Women and Gender Constituency at COP17

“From our point of view, the enthusiastic reaction of some media to the Durban outcome (referring to it as a “breakthrough”) is not warranted. Yes, a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol has been adopted, but it covers only a relatively small fraction of current global emissions, with Canada formally stepping back from the Protocol, the US having never stepped in, and Russia, Japan and Australia rejecting the second commitment period. Moreover, the targets of the remaining ‘Kyoto club’ are not yet clear and have to be submitted during the coming months.Yes, an “Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action” has been established to adopt a legal agreement by 2015 at the latest. But hasn’t the AWG-LCA had more or less the same task? And this new broad agreement won’t enter into force before 2020! Yes, the Green Climate Funds’s basic design has been adopted. But who will fill it? Yes, ‘gender’ is still mentioned in the AWG-LCA documents, but it has been removed from the text on shared vision. Ultimately, we consider the Durban outcomes a breakdown, not a breakthrough.”

I’d have to agree. With each COP, the expectations are lower and the outcomes are smaller. I refuse to pat world leaders on the back for meager agreements that do not prevent disastrous climate change for all of the people on this planet.

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