FRIDAY 2 DECEMBER
Acclimating — There is no missing the fact that Durban is hosting the Climate Change Conference. Everywhere — from the airport in Johannesburg to the Indian Ocean city of Durban, there are reminders of the Conference. Posters admonish that more climate change means less food. Bus stops feature the Durban COP logo, and wall-to-wall coverage of the Conference is featured in the press and on television. TV clips show everything from the perils of coal to the virtues of small hydropower.
The South African Way — Everyone who is here in Durban understands that the negotiations on the way forward will not be easy. From decisions over the future of the Kyoto Protocol to climate financing to the longer view of next steps toward a legal agreement, there are widely divergent views. And that is why the President of the Durban Climate Conference, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who is South Africa’s Minister of International Relations & Cooperation, introduced the world to the idea of “indabas.” The term, in Zulu, refers to a gathering of the community to resolve difficult situations in the spirit of compromise — solutions that benefit everyone.
Africa feeling the heat — There is a great deal of urgency for action on climate change, according to African NGOs here, who note that 18 million people in the Horn of Africa suffered from famine due to climate change-related drought. Ann Maina, of the African Biodiversity Network, said, however, that the continent needed to be wary of “false solutions.” For examples, she said schemes that pay farmers for growing crops are not worthwhile — the farmers get US$5 a year while the consultants make a lot more. The money, she says, needs to be put into adaptation that benefits small landholders.
On Missing a Conference — Keya Chatterjeee of WWF-US said she felt a little off-kilter coming to Durban, after missing last year’s conference in Cancun because she had a baby. But picking up the thread, she noted that a climate treaty in Durban is as elusive as it was in Copenhagen.
Durban expectations — Although reports prior to the Conference did not provide much hope that Durban would result in much progress, attendance has held steady. There are about 15,000 registered and almost 10,000 people already here, before a dozen or so heads of state and 130 ministers arrive next week. The numbers are well in line with previous conferences in Cancun, Poznan and Bali, with the exception being Copenhagen, where attendance was much higher.