United Nations Framework for Climate Change Executive Secretary Cristiana Figueres declared Sunday that there will be a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol by the end of COP 17.
Speaking before the final plenary session at Forest Day 5, Figueres explained that countries’ delegations had shifted from a mere recitation of their national interests to engaging in substantial negotiations. The framework of this commitment will be based on adaptation, mitigation and the alleviation of poverty, she said.
This recognition of the need to reduce inequity has been part of the basis for designating countries’ vulnerability to climate change’s impact.
Figueres’ optimistic note to conclude the first week ran counter to a slew of coverage and commentary about the expected failure of negotiating teams from around the globe to forge a comprehensive agreement.
But it was neither the first nor the only such statement.
Throughout the first week, speakers, exhibitors and protestors had expressed a firm and dogged conviction that climate change’s most devastating effects can be averted, and even reversed.
Kristie Ebi, executive director fo the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change , made the point that many successful strategies to combat climate change are already known and need not wait for the conference’s results to be undertaken.
“There is no reason not to start now,” Ebi said during a press briefing for the Climate Change Media Partnership.
Members of the Governors’ Climate and Forest Task Force have not waited, but instead have created a collaboration between 16 states and provinces from six countries.
Together, they cover more than 20 percent of the world’s tropical forests, including about 75 percent of Brazil’s and more than half of Indonesia’s tropical forests, according to an organizational brochure.
The group’s mission is to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and promote realistic ways to simultaneously develop rural areas and maintain forests, the brochure said.
The task force grew out of the November 2008 Governors’ Global Climate Summit in California, and formally established the organization in 2009. States from Mexico, Peru and Nigeria have joined those from the United States, Indonesia and Brazil in the past two years.
In 2012 the group will focus on expanding a database of the status and trends regarding land use and deforestation as well as facilitating cooperation between task force members and their respective federal governments.
For his part, Bennie Pieterser said he traveled from the Western Cape to Durban to protest the governmental seizure of farm land and what he described as the insufficient progress of COP17 delegates in negotiating an agreement.
A veteran of the South African military, Pieterser has moved into training people in sustainable farming methods.
He traveled with three other Khoisan men to join the protest that began at Speaker’s Corner, took to Durban’s streets and returned to the original spot.
Speaking as a stream of protestors walked by him to reenter Speaker’s Corner, Pieterser expressed his belief that positive change is possible.
“The road is long,” he said. “It will not be easy. But it can come right.”
The second week of negotiations begins today.