Cool COP Morning: Negotiators Take Durban Climate Talks Down to the Wire

Written by Lisa Hayden on . Posted in Act, COP17, The Wonk Room

Perhaps we should change the title of this daily COP post from “cool” to “warm.” The way things are going in Durban, that might be a more apt description of our future.

We’re getting down to the wire and there’s nothing like a deadline to spur productivity. The delegates from 194 nations at the UN COP 17 climate conference are following that cue, as they often do at these events, leaving any final results to the final day.

The two-week talks close tomorrow and whether the event will be considered another bust, as the Copenhagen COP was in 2009, or a marginal success as the Cancun COP was last year, is still unknown.

Continuing protests, as well as unusual appearances from people who don’t want any action on climate change, provided a colorful backdrop to the ongoing talks in the final days of the meetings.

One of the biggest skeptics of climate change in the U.S. Congress, Sen. Jame Inhofe of Oklahoma appeared Wednesday in a taped message played at a conference meeting room, telling delegates that they were being ignored by the U.S. According to Energy & Environment Daily (subscription required), Inhofe said, “You should know that global warming skeptics everywhere wish we could be with you celebrating the final nail in the coffin on location in South Africa.” Opponents to global action on climate change also dropped parachutes over the Durban coast with signs questioning climate science.

But other reports indicated that activists for climate action were also stepping up their pressure. On Wednesday, a group of Canadian youth stood and turned their backs as the Canadian environment minister spoke, symbolizing their opposition to their nation’s position against renewing the Kyoto Protocol.

And today, an American college student, Abigail Borah of Middlebury College in Vermont, who had made a speech on reducing deforestation during the first week of the COP, was reportedly ejected from the conference amid cheers from the audience, after she interrupted US negotiator Todd Stern during a speech.  ”I am speaking on behalf of the United States, because our negotiators are not,” she said, according to a blog by the organization 350.org.

Some reports indicated that there were signs that the parties might be loosening their positions in the final hours. For example, Canada’s environment minister has now indicated they might accept a treaty before 2015.

So stay tuned for the final act of Durban COP 17. It’s not over ‘til it’s over.

Lisa Hayden is a blogger and writer for The Nature Conservancy

Photo by: Frank Lowenstein (A Siemens electric motorcycle on display at the COP 17, made in collaboration with Orange County Choppers in U.S., has a top speed of 160 km/hour, range of 120 km per charge and takes 5 hours to charge.)

Photo 2 by: Paul Mackie (Colleagues Matt Barrett and Imen Meliane at The Nature Conservancy’s booth at the COP 17 conference.)

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