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Thinking global climate change, acting...?

Reflecting on observations of the 2011 UN Climate Change Negotiations in Durban, South Africa, this blog ventures into the realms of planetary scale and grassroots action.  It begs the question, how do we reconnote "climate change" to be a force of empowerment and action, rather than of despair and disregard?

Reflective vingettes

After coming back to the States and having some time to digest over the holidays, I’m still sorting out lessons from my experiences at the climate change conference in Durban.  Below are a few vignettes of what I’ve been chewing on.

Global governance is not democratic

Not all carbon is created equal

Through the Durban Climate Change Negotiations story I’ve referred to countries’ rank in current global carbon emissions.   (e.g. China recently surpassing the U.S.

End results

The international climate talks were extended over the weekend as countries attempted to save face and hammer out a deal before wrapping up here Durban.  After three all-night sessions, passionate exchanges, and even a last minute huddle to agree on the details, exhausted negotiators announced at 5am Sunday that they had finally reached a deal. 

Impending closure

Last night the conference goers staying at the Banana Backpackers Hostel in downtown Durban unwound in the humid night air.  South African beer, cider, soda, and cigarettes eased their collective frustrations and enabled more light-hearted conversations.   I followed the conversations along for a bit but quickly became absorbed in my own observations.  A large bat occasionally revealed itself--flying under the nearby streetlamps.  The haze shrouded moon was getting full overhead.  Above the city lights, I could just make out the stars of Orion. 

COP17: Buzz words in translation

Throughout the last two weeks I've been getting acquainted with the particular lexicon of UN climate change negotiations.  Below is a sampling.  Note the occassionally conflicting definitions. 


1.5C (n.) One type of emissions target being discussed at COP17.  Last year at COP16 in Cancun, it was agreed upon that if carbon emissions result in a global temperature rise that exceeds 1.5C, climate change will have irretrievable consequences. 

U.S. leadership and economic viability

284 Amid a moving squabble of cameras and reporters, the highest climate change negotiator for the United States made his way through the corridors of Durban, South Africa’s International Convention Center.  At a press conference earlier today, Todd Stern reiterated the U.S.

Afforestation to mitigate climate change?

279 Beyond the concrete buildings of downtown Durban, suburbs give way to rural tree plantations. Orderly rows of even-aged eucalyptus and pine trees quilt the landscape. Many of these farmed forests supply a thriving paper industry. More and more are being planted to combat climate change.  Planting trees is one strategy among a suite of others under the climate change policy known as REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation in Developing Countries).

Aftermath of Forest Day 5

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(click on image to see clearly)

UN Secretary General urges progress on climate change

“We must be realistic about expectations for a breakthrough in Durban.  We know the reasons: grave economic troubles in many countries, abiding political differences, conflicting priorities and strategies for responding to climate change. Yet let me emphasize: none of these uncertainties should prevent us from making real progress here in Durban.”

Kicking off a second week

Each night before I settling into bed, I take a few moments to sit on the crumbling deck outside my second floor hostel room.  Darkness falls and a cool salty breeze makes its way through the maze of concrete buildings.