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.
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.
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.
My trip to Durban and COP 17 began with a trip to Washington DC.
By now most of you have heard about the unusual reversal by the State Department and President Obama regarding approving the permit to allow the Keystone XL pipeline to carry Tar Sands oil from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, 1700 miles across some environmentally fragile land.