Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gathering in eThekwini

See my CLIMATE page
The South African municipality of eThikwini is best known by the name of its major city, Durban. This city on the Indian Ocean is the focus of worldwide attention this week, as representatives of 190 countries meet to discuss the next phase of cooperation -- or intransigence --  on climate change. I had actually hoped to be part of the meeting, because of a connection to the host city and because of the real urgent need to involve farmers -- particularly coffee farmers -- more directly in the meetings. Although I did not make it to Durban, I'm pleased to see that a small Occupy Earth movement is present, as reported by Meanwhile, Mr. Pushpanath Krishnamurthy is walking across India to draw attention to climate justice; follow his progress on GoPushGo!

My heart is with those who have so far been marginalized in the discussion, but I need also to wrap my head around what the actual negotiators are doing, since our fate -- so far -- rests in their words and deeds. Two stories on the November 29 All Things Considered program serve to outline the major considerations in some detail. As Kyoto Protocol Ends describes the limitations that were inherent in the Kyoto agreement, which is binding, but only on countries representing 20 percent of carbon emissions. Of the major polluters, only the European Union is actually following the agreement. The subsequent interview with Todd Stern may cause some alarm. This U.S. climate negotiator does not consider success an option, if success is measured as a binding treaty, but he does count non-binding agreements announced in Cancun as successes.

To his credit, Stern does recognize that the United States is increasingly isolated; in the rest of the world people might disagree on how to share the burden of climate remedies, but the need to act is widely accepted.

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