Friday, 9 December 2011

COP17: Don’t kill Africa

By Mubatsi Asinja Habati

Less than 4 hours to the official closure time of the UN climate talks plenary, hundreds of youthful protesters led by the Greenpeace NGO took the conference hall by surprise momentarily bringing final-touch discussions to a halt.  The youths are demanding for climate justice and are bitter the discussions that began a fortnight ago are moving at a snail’s pace and could leave Africa, the region most threatened by climate change, with a bad deal.

This morning, several state negotiators entered the negotiation rooms on climate finance, renewed Kyoto Protocol, adaptation to climate change impact, clean development mechanism and technological transfer with mixed spirits on whether a better deal would come out of the Durban discussions. It’s already 5 pm but no clear deal has been reached after 14 days of endless discussions. Ministers who are leaders of government negotiators are locked in a secret meeting that could decide the final deal out of Durban.

Even then, the president of the Conference of Parties (COP), Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, has been dodgy on telling the success of the Durban COP17 so far. Nkoana-Mashabane told journalists this afternoon that the talks “have been successful on the technical part” but couldn’t divulge details. There is a very high possibility the climate talks that are supposed to end today could spill to Friday night and early Saturday morning. 

However, by close of day on Dec. 8, parties agreed to establish the Green Climate Fund (GCF) but today heated debate surrounds the sources of this fund. International NGOs including Oxfam are suggesting that a $25 levy on shipping industries per shipping, as a way of curbing emissions from ships, could help raise some percent of the GCF. The developed countries especially the U.S, China and India are not comfortable with such suggestions. 

A draft text that could legally bind more than 30 industrialised countries to cut emissions under a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol emerged this afternoon as the EU warned time was running out to adopt it as part of a broader agreement. Most the today’s negotiations are based on rotate on this text. As the clock ticks to end the COP17 discussions and leave the countries to wait for COP18, it’s up to the individual parties and state blocks to choose to save the world’s future now or later.

Meanwhile, the youth are chanting that this is the only time Africa has to get climate justice after the dangerous climate change impact that the World Bank say threatens to reverse the development gains the continent has made. As negotiators make the last moves to come out of Durban with a reasonable deal, perhaps the pressure exerted by the youth could make them act very fast and save the world whose future UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently said was at threaten by climate change.

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