As the high-level negotiators get down to business at the United Nations climate summit in Durban, the world is awaiting the outcome.
With the global economy facing its own set of challenges, many analysts have predicted that a major break-through on a deal to limit global carbon emissions is unlikely.
Nonetheless, many observers still hold out hope that significant progress might be made on a more limited range of issues, including the possibility of some intermediate process that would create yardsticks for the negotiations over the next several years.
Meanwhile, despite the absence of climate change as an issue before the U.S. Congress, a group of U.S. senators (13 Democrats and two independents) reportedly weighed in on the Durban discussion Monday by sending a letter to Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton calling for “a strong and ambitious package of outcomes from Durban,” including financial assistance to poor countries most vulnerable to climate change.
“We are committed to doing our part to transition to a clean energy economy that decreases carbon pollution, creates jobs and builds resilience in vulnerable communities both at home and abroad,” wrote the senators, led by Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.
Amid various closed-door meetings, the official UNFCCC proceedings on Tuesday included a high-profile launch of a “Momentum for Change Initiative,” which aims to showcase projects that benefit communities as well as fight climate change, either by reducing emissions or enhancing the resilience and preparation of our world to deal with its impacts. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Lord Nicholas Stern moderated the event.
Through its nature-based approaches to adapting to climate change, The Nature Conservancy takes a similar approach of maximizing benefits to people and nature through our on-the-ground work to prepare communities for climate changes, and impacts such as shortages of drinking water and damages from storms. In the coming days, Planet Change will highlight some of our work in Africa.
As COP 17 enters its final days, the pressure for real results is on. An editorial from Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald observed that their nation could have waited for countries with higher emissions to act first, but instead recently enacted a carbon tax, and an emissions trading program to follow, in order to meet its emissions reduction goals. Now, we must wait to see which nations history will remember as having the courage and leadership to act first.
Lisa Hayden is a blogger and writer for The Nature Conservancy
Photo by: Flickr user Karmen Meyer (Grandmothers join the Global Day of Action march for climate action over the weekend at COP 17 in Durban, South Africa) Used under a Creative Commons license.
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