Today’s the last day of COP17, the United Nations conference on climate change, and the place is absolutely buzzing with activity.
It remains to be seen whether the world’s nations will be able to come to meaningful terms on what arguably is the planetary issue of the 21st century.
Here are some of the major issues being discussed:
a. Kyoto Protocol Second Commitment Period. This would extend the only legally binding document on carbon emissions for an additional period of time. The Least Developed Countries, or LDCs, are pushing for five years after the initial protocol ends in January 3, while other nations have said seven years works better for them.
A big hitch is that many major carbon emitters like the United, Japan, Russia and Canada have ruled out signing onto an extension (The United States never signed the first protocol.).
Meanwhile, South Africa, China, India and Brazil, the so-called Basic countries, have started to work on an alternative framework that would concentrate on climate equity and sustainable development.
b. Road map: The European Union has said it will sign up to extend Kyoto only if all nations adopt a “road map” pointing toward a legally binding treaty under which countries would have until 2015 to formulate plans that would take effect by 2020.
c. The Green Climate Fund: At the Cancun conference in 2010, agreement was reached to create a $100 billion fund that would be disbursed annually to developing nations. Discussion here in Durban has focused on making the fund operational before getting specific pledge commitments. African Union nations, among others, have signaled that this is an important issue for them.
Meanwhile, youth activists from the University of Witswatersrand staged a protest this morning in which people wearing white body suits spray painted with the words “Must Sign” took turns lieing on the ground, then wrote phrases in orange chalk like “Sign the protocol. Stop wasting time. Renew it.”
A pair of youth played on a tambourine and scraped a comb over a tube-like piece of metal as the group traced a path past a fortress-like collection of green, black and blue crates from Cape Town.
You get the idea.
I’ll be tweeting actively throughout the day, and, most likely, well into the night at @JeffKLO.
It’s a thrill to be here and I’ll keep you posted about what we learn.
For now, though, I’m heading to a COP17 press conference.