Tuesday, 6 December 2011

COP17: Banking on politicians for good deal

By Mubatsi Asinja Habati

December 6 marks Day 9 of the ongoing UN climate talks in Durban COP17. It is a melting pot of heads on what legacy COP17 will leave for Africa and its vast army of poor farmers who currently contend with crop failure due to climate change induced effects. State governments negotiators, civil society organizations delegates and journalists are burning midnight candles to go about their business here.

The day is highly charged. A newsletter (eco) by non-governmental environmental groups has written several articles imloring negotiators to give the best deal and today's edition is dedicated to government environment ministers to come up with the best deal for the people at risk of climate change effects. 

Oxfam's Country press officer for South Africa, Nthateng Mhlambiso, summed up expectations of Day 9 of COP17 in the following lines. Today the push to get the best possible options on the table hits its peak as negotiators work through the night to prepare a final negotiating text for ministers, expected to be released tomorrow.  Worrying signs suggest that this could become the “Roadmap COP” with many of the tough, and important, issues punted to the future.  Clearly the poorest people on the front lines of the climate crisis cannot afford delay. 

"The push for a 10-year timeout on new emissions cut targets will make delivering practical solutions for the people most vulnerable to climate change even more essential here in Durban. The Financial Times is reporting that for the first time, the most recent negotiating text on finance includes a specific reference to “bunkers” which would raise billions of dollars from the shipping industry to support the Green Climate Fund.  This is a major development as this is the first concrete source of finance for the Green Climate Fund to make it into a negotiating text.  Keeping this reference in the text is the best possible way to ensure the Fund does not kick off as an “empty shell”," says Mhlambiso.

On the sidelines UNEP is releasing an updated report on the science of the emissions gap. The report shows that the emissions gap has grown and lays out the options to close it. In the plenary ministers are being urged to ensure the average global temperature remains below 2 degrees Cecilius to avoid a more warming earth. "Dear ministers we are relying on you this week to show true leadership and choose to pull back from the abyss and take bold steps in the new direction that works for all of us, our climate and planet," reads part of the eco newsletter.

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