UN climate talks 2011: will they listen?
The climate talks have begun but the negotiators seem to be sticking to last year's script. An impromptu assembly outside could teach them a thing or two.
A group of people discus what climate justice means to them at the Conference of People General Assembly. As delegates streamed into Durban's International Conference centre for day one of the UN climate talks, another assembly was getting underway on a small patch of grass over the road.
The 'Conference of People General Assembly', also known as Occupy COP17, got together to start a conversation of their own on climate change.
Addressing the assembly was Pablo Solon, Bolivia's former chief climate change negotiator, who gave his view of the official talks and stressed the importance of people's gatherings like this one.
"The issues being negotiated are the future of human life…The Cancun agreement will cook the world. Temperatures will increase by four degrees and in Africa they will increase by eight degrees"
"Negotiators will not change if there is no social pressure. The future of the world begins here."
With those words in mind, the assembly split into small groups to talk. Their first task: to discuss the meaning of climate justice.
the state of the talks
Inside the conference centre, at Friends of the Earth International's first press conference, our chair Nnimmo Bassey echoed the views of Solon and quoted Archbishop Desmond Tutu whom he spoke with at a rally the day before:
"Those who think they would survive when climate change gets to the tipping point and becomes uncontrollable are fools."
He stressed the fact that Africa is suffering the most - alongside small island states - from the impacts of climate change:
"We are not speaking of what will happen in 5 years or ten years we are talking about what is going on right now.. We are speaking about droughts, we are talking about climate environmental refugees already in the continent. We are talking about floods, we are talking about crop failures, desertification, mudslides" he said.
Nnimmo also reminded the audience that Africa is, by no means, the only continent suffering the consequences of extreme weather though. In the past year alone countries in Asia and Latin America have suffered from terrible flooding.
Lucia Ortiz, Bobby Peek, Nnimmo Bassey and Meena Raman speak at FoEI's first press conference of the climate talks. . Meena Raman from FoE Malaysia talked about the state of the talks and the entrenched positions of many developed countries.
"Rather than strengthen the emissions targets and cut out the loopholes to galvanise real action on climate emissions, the US, Japan, Canada and others are pushing to scrap the agreed, legally-binding framework to cut emissions and replace it with a voluntary ‘pledge and review' approach. This approach would put the world squarely on track to catastrophic global warming" she said.
Finally Lucia Ortiz from Friends of the Earth Brazil talked about the conflict and insecurities communities are facing in her country as flawed schemes to offset carbon emissions, such as REDD are persued.
In closing, Bobby Peek from FoE South Africa confirmed his belief that conference delegates are already feeling the pressure from the civil society voices on the outside demanding climate justice.
The question is: will they listen?