The heavens welcomed delegates to the 17th Conference of the Parties with a massive rainstorm on Sunday night which left streets awash with water (and killed eight people).
eThekwini Municipality had fielded a rather intimidating force of policemen and women, as well as a horde of young people clad in vibrant green T-shirts labelled COP17/CMP7, but none of them knew where Speaker’s Corner was. This little patch of greenery, opposite the International Convention Centre (ICC) where all the suits are engaged in meaningful mainstream activities, is the negotiated terrain where the city will allow a certain amount of protest activity. Just before midday today, it attracted a small crowd of about 50 activists, some from far afield (there were two Bolivians present, for instance) and some locals. One such was Fundile Dlamini (see right), from a local climate foundation (Plant for the Planet) aimed at creating awareness among children. “Children are the ones who’re gonna be holding on to the future, so they have know about this and they have to act to be helpful about this matter,” he told me.
More Occupy events are planned for the next several days.
This evening, Dr Michael Dorsey from Climate Justice Now! Network, the second largest ENGO coalition in the UNFCCC process, urged the parties to reach a legally binding agreement for substantial reductions in emissions.
He pointed out that carbon trading, Clean Development Mechanisms and similar strategies have failed: “Carbon prices are haemorrhaging. In the two-week lead up to the negotiations here in Durban carbon prices fell more than 30%!” He went on: “Just last week one of the top ten largest banks on the planet, the largest Swiss bank UBS, repeated what is becoming a common mantra: carbon prices are too low to even have an environmental impact.
“We urge you to a) shut down the Clean Development Mechanism and B) do not attempt to link any forms of climate finance to flexible mechanisms or market instruments.
“Devise justice based mechanisms not based in failed market efforts.”
Justice mechanisms might include legal rights for the planet, a cause espoused by Cormac Cullinan, environmental lawyer from South Africa who coined the term ‘wild law’. He is at COP17, and I’ll be talking to him during the course of this week.