SATURDAY 3 DECEMBER
Climate Protest—By the official count, there were more than 6,000 people who took part in today’s climate protest march, which featured local Durbanites and activists who waved flags from countries as varied as El Salvador to Burundi to Zimbabwe. The marchers called for action on a range of issues including climate justice, food-water-energy-for-all, to no nukes. The march snaked around two sides of the expansive Conference site, stopping in front of the Hilton Hotel so that leaders could present a list of demands to the Conference officials. Bearing placards, brightly colored t-shirts, the marchers also used songs, chants, and yes, those vuvuzelas that gained international renown during last year’s World Cup matches, were prominent.
Developing countries in the lead—According to India’s chief negotiator here, J.M Mauskar, developing countries have now set much more ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions than the richer, industrialized countries. India, he says, is not a major emitter, but rather, a large country with a small carbon footprint. Still, the country is voluntarily working toward the goal of reducing the emission intensity of its economy by 20-25 per cent from 2005 levels. India has also put forth proposals to push for action on issues that it says were not dealt with in Cancun, such as equity, unilateral trade measures, and intellectual property rights. Mauskar says if there is a big technological breakthrough that can benefit everyone quickly, such as an energy storage device or on desalinization, the technology should be spread everywhere.
Fall-out from Fukushima—it’s hard to say whether the lessons of this year’s Fukushima nuclear accident have been absorbed in the negotiating process, but some members of Climate Youth Japan reminded Conference participants by donning the radiation suits required in the clean-up. The protesters called for shifting from nuclear power to renewables.
From biowaste to biofuel—At the entrance to the Conference Center are several exhibits featuring new technologies and one trailer-size demonstration that shows how biomass or municipal solid wastes can be turned into fuel. Called Beau-T-fuel, the three ton unit, developed through South African researchers, can turn the biomass into electricity and diesel fuel. Efforts are now underway to try to produce the units—which are designed to be mobile to go where the biomass is—for commercial purposes.