Durban 2011 – Conference on Climate Change – COP 17/CMP7

The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (CMP7) to the Kyoto Protocol, are now in progress in the  city of Durban, South Africa.

Why bother?

Thirteen of the warmest years recorded have occurred within the last decade and a half, the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation said on Tuesday.

“Our science is solid and it proves unequivocally that the world is warming and that this warming is due to human activities,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a statement, adding that policy-makers should take note of the findings.

“Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached new highs and are very rapidly approaching levels consistent with a 2 to 2.4 Celsius rise in average global temperatures.”

Scientists believe that any rise above the 2.0 threshold could trigger far-reaching and irreversible changes on Earth over land and in the seas.


Will the conference achieve anything?

A number of issues haunt the Durban climate talks commencing today (Nov. 28), but many are hopeful it would produce results.

With the Kyoto protocol nearing expiration, climate change advocates and negotiators are expecting a new treaty or an extension of the protocol will be made at the conference. They are also hoping for new commitments, including pushing the Green Climate Fund forward. This new fund is reportedly being blocked by the United States and Saudi Arabia.

The Kyoto protocol called for 37 wealthy nations — excluding the United States — to reduce their carbon emissions 5 percent below the 1990 levels by 2012 and to assist developing nations adapt to a cleaner energy path. But with the protocol drawing to an end, industrialized nations are becoming more adamant against signing a new climate deal. One of the reasons being the “unbalanced requirements” upon which only major industrialized nations such as Japan, Canada and Russia are required to meet carbon emission targets, while emerging economic economies, including China, India, Brazil and South Africa, have no such mandates.

There may be limited agreements on emission cuts but many are still hoping for an agreement between China and the U.S., the largest emitters of fossil fuel-produced greenhouse gases.

When I started teaching in 1973 I was discussing with sixth fom students about pollution and they were concerned that they had dscovered that penguins in the Antarctic had high lead levels in their blood -a result of atmospheric movements of pollutants from the North to the South. Nothing seems to have changed , yet attitudes seem to be more hardened – climate change activitists are called ‘warmists’ and are often derided. We still do not have a good understanding that country boundaries are useless and arbitrary when it comes to global environmental issues – we are all in this together and it demands global commitments and solutions to hand over a living planet to future generations.

To be honest, fighting over whether scientific data show global warming or illustrate ‘normal’ cycles such as glacial/interglacial, are worthless – there is no disputing that with 7 billion people and rising there are not enough resources to go round at the level  which we are using them. We are wasting resources on arms and wars while we wonder if there is enough food and water to go round. Aliens, looking down, must be wondering that the thing on our shoulders must be a football rather than a brain -we do not seem to be evolving for the better.

Awareness is not enough without action…we have several decades on making people aware of environmental concerns, but there is still not enough political will to take widespread action , more than recycling a few bottles and cans…..


Lets see who has the strongest voice at the conference…


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