COP Negotiations: Information Overload

Thursday, 01 December 2011
The COP negotiations are not quite as I expected. I guess I envisioned a group of like 20 people talking back and forth, kind of like a Presidential debate, but with more people and a narrower scope. What I’ve found is that a “President,” who is a UNFCCC official or South Africa “recognizing” a delegate, typically an “honorable” one, so that they can take the “floor.” They don’t actually get up and take the stage or floor, but speak from their seat, which is alphabetized by country. This whole set up is less dramatic than a debate, and you need to look at one of the many screens to see who actually is talking. I’ve tried many times to see who is talking from my seat in the back, and usually can’t find them by the time they are done speaking. In this way, those of you back home can get most of what I experience (without the 90 F with 90% humidity) via the miracle of the internet. The one type of thing you can’t experience is the smaller discussions of workgroups and committees that occur throughout the day and are not recorded or televised.
Published in International

Durban Climate Talks Begin

Sunday, 27 November 2011

On November 28th, the 17th Conference of Parties (COP 17) to the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) began in Durban, South Africa. The UN Climate Talks will span two weeks and include delegates from 194 countries but also hundreds of public interest organizations and thousands of activists from around the world will join them to advocate for a fair, ambitious and binding agreement that will reduce global emissions, build vulnerable nations’ resilience to climate change and foster a low-carbon green economy globally.

Published in Climate News

Day 1: Whirling Durban

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Today was my second day in Durban and began with an adventure trying to reach the COP17 registration area. Theoretically, there are shuttles to the conference center and other buses, including the fascinating option Paul and I took: the mini-bus. Essentially if you crossed a taxi with a bus, you’d get the mini-bus in South Africa. They sort of have a set route, but have flexibility in where they go and if they make a stop. Maybe 15 people can squeeze in the vans, which all seem around 10 years old and have various defects. In my case, the door could only be opened from the outside and seat belts were sparse. Primarily locals utilize this service, I’m guessing because tourists usually don’t stumble upon them, or potentially fear them. Our driver put on a show by zipping between lanes and drifting forward and then swerving away from the pedestrians scattered along sidewalks and medians. This is definitely a different form of transportation than we encounter in the U.S., and I’m thinking it is a slightly lower carbon option than personal driving. Whether it is worth the risk, I can’t say.

Published in International

State Department meets with Minnesota delegation

Monday, 21 November 2011 18:00

Jonathan Pershing’s secretary is from Eagan, MN and we had lots to chat about before Sharon said: “let me look at Jonathan’s schedule, can you come in Monday morning at 9 am?” We cleared security, got three latecomers approved and Sharon ushered us to the meeting room. A few minutes later Dr. Pershing (who received his PhD from the University of MN) greeted us. I reminded him of our meeting in Cancun at COP 16 last December. I started the meeting by confirming our 20 minute time allotment (he ended up giving us 40) and each of us gave 2-3 minutes of heartfelt testimony about why we were in D.C. for the Tar Sands action and that we were here to represent the ‘call to action’ from thousands of Minnesotans through our newly established MN350 network, including the Will Steger Foundation, Cool Planet, Citizens Climate Lobby, and MN Interfaith Power and Light.


Published in International