COP17: Saving Tomorrow, Tomorrow

By Melanie J. Martin - 10 Dec 2011 20:22:0 GMT
COP17: Saving Tomorrow, Tomorrow

Smoke pipes factory pollution via Shutterstock

In the final hours of COP17 (the 17th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change), the real story is what's not being told. Coverage of this global conference, which allegedly aims to create a strategy to save our world from climate change, is disturbingly sparse. The U.S. media has all but ignored it. Reluctant Twitterers everywhere, myself included, are realizing that the only way we'll get any inkling of what's happening is from on-the-ground reports.

Europe is pushing for the U.S., China, and India to get onboard with the mere idea of a deal, the Guardian Times Environment Blog reports. "Success or failure in Durban now rests on countries that have not yet committed to the roadmap and the meaningful content it must have. We need to get them on board now. We do not have many hours left. The world is waiting for them," said EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard, as quoted in a Mail & Guardian article.

The EU roadmap would likely take effect in 2015, and would maintain emission cut requirements after 2020. Although the U.S. has apparently agreed tentatively to the EU roadmap, it does not necessarily agree with ratifying the deal by 2015.

More than 120 of the 194 parties support the EU roadmap, including many of the world's poorest countries. They know that climate change will affect them dramatically if the world's largest polluters fail to implement urgent mitigation strategies.

However, as the period of the Kyoto Protocol draws to an end (it has less than a month to go), it looks likely that COP17 will end with an agreement to "save tomorrow tomorrow," to borrow Stephen Colbert's phrase.

In addition to the failure to form a strong and far-reaching agreement, the marginalization of local communities has posed a major concern. Protestors have been occupying the area outside the conference building and in some cases holding demonstrations inside, demanding a voice for the people, not the polluters. The inaction at COP17 stems from the sway that big polluters have over government, they asserted, chanting, "You can't decide our destiny."

Volunteers for the city of Durban assaulted some of the demonstrators in a recent action, encircling and kicking one man after knocking him to the ground.

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Topics: Climate