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The Home Stretch

“Climate change will not be incremental; it will be transformational.”

These are tyhe inspiring words heard from Minister of the Maldives, Mohammed Aslam, a man whom I had the pleasure of hearinf speak yesterday in the Vulnerable Climate Forum’s discussion at King’s Park in Durban. This simple phrase uttered by a man whose country will be threatened by the effects of climate change before many other countries was both a sentiment of despair and promise. For me, it was important to remember that in these last few days of the COP in Durban, that moralistic and concise words such as these can drive the UNFCCC process towards an agreement or not; either “transforming” our global relations in reagrds to climate change or continuing the “incremental” progress we have seen at previous COPs up to this point.

The group met with President Pachauri of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and had a complete and frank discussion of how this leader in the negotiations and the climate change community has seen some doubts coming from this COP in regards to a “large-scale” binding agreement coming out of Durban by the wee morning hours of Saturday. His concerns included the lack of scientific evidence and data presented and discussed in the meetings as to the ever-pressing concerns of climate change, as well as the political and economic positions of several countries who wish to commit or not commit to a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol. His views were very founded, as having attended many side-events at this conference similar concerns have been addressed numerous times by various bodies, yet two bold statements by the EU and China in the past week have suprised me; leading one to believe that countries are serious about committing to some action coming out of Durban. China has suddenly and somewhat suprisingly stated several actions they are backing; fast-start development funds, “similar but differntiated actions,” and further green development. The EU, although economically stuck between a rock and a hard place, declared yesterday their commitment to extend the targets of the Kyoto Protocol comittment period 2, regardless of whether or not any other country will formally adopt a second commitment period. Therefore, the idea that the “big” countries here are willing to commit to these actions in Durban is still a sign of hope, and one that quite frankly, I did not feel was going to occur until yesterday. Tying this back to the moralistic and inspiring speech I heard from Minister Aslam from the Maldives yesterday, the MORAL tone at this conference, so often not seen, has made somewhat of an appearance in Durban. It is whether continued selfish statements and action can be taken so that overarching actions can be seen taken and a binding agreement can come out of the UNFCCC process for this COP.

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One Response to "The Home Stretch"

  1. Emily Bowie says:

    Great post. I think those statements surprised everyone. I also thoroughly enjoyed breakfast with Pachauri, he highlighted important needs for effective adaptation and called for a more thorough integration of science into the politics of this COP.

    Also, that is an awesome picture.

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