FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Occupy Durban

by BRYAN FERRELL

Most of the rich nations gathering at this year’s UN climate summit have already conceded defeat when it comes to producing any kind of binding treaty to slow greenhouse gas emissions this decade. But that isn’t going to stop poorer, more climate-vulnerable nations from trying.

Costa Rican president José María Figueres is calling on these vulnerable countries to “occupy Durban” — the South African city hosting the summit from its launch yesterday until December 9th.

“We went to Copenhagen [in 2009] with the illusion we could reach an equitable agreement. We went to Cancún [in 2009] where we saw slight but not sufficient progress. Frustration is now deep and building. Now we hear that we will need more conferences. Sometime we have to get serious. We should be going to Durban with the firm conviction that we do not come back until we have made substantial advances.”

While it is not known whether anyone will take up Figueres’s call to action, theGuardian did speak to one ambassador who said, “In the corridors [here] there is talk of occupying the meeting rooms, but there could be sanctions. So it needs to be big inside in order to have impact and nobody is punished. We are at the beginning.”

The Guardian also noted that Seyni Nafo, spokesman for the important 53-country Africa group, is on record as saying, “Action that might make it [climate change] visible must be considered. We are exploring a lot of avenues and options. You have to take that seriously.”

Meanwhile, outside the conference space, protestors have formedOccupy COP17 (as this is the 17th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Climate Change). The General Assembly held its first meeting yesterday against the backdrop of a banner that read “Conference of People.” Before breaking off into groups to discuss ideas for solutions to the climate crisis, former Bolivian Ambassador to the UN Pablo Solon took the people’s mic:

“The only way to bring balance is to have the rights of nature and the rights of human beings. I have been a negotiator for two and a half years. We opposed the Cancun Agreement one year ago. Why? Because it is going to cook the world and it is going to cook Africa.”

This point has been raised by many African environmentalists as well. At a COP17 protest in Johannesburg on Saturday Earthlife Africa program officerMakoma Lekalakala told the South African Broadcasting Corporation that she was marching to “make sure that this COP doesn’t become another failure, a failure that would cost the lives of millions of South Africans.”

To further highlight what many Africans may soon face as a result of climate change, civil society groups have set up a mock refugee camp near the convention center, where about 2,000 climate justice activists from around the region will be based during the next two weeks. One of their main goals is to get the youth involved, which is vital since they represent 70 percent of Africa’s population.

There are some, however, who are already involved. About 200 young people traveled from Nairobi for two weeks in a caravan of buses through Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana and South Africa, organizing concerts along the way to draw attention to the impacts of climate change. Now in Durban, they plan to organize more events that will appeal to the African youth.

As pressure mounts both outside and inside a climate conference many people see as one of the last great hopes to avert the worst effects of climate change, it’s worth pointing out, as Occupy COP17 does on its website, that Durban is the place where “Nelson Mandela cast his first vote and Gandhi held his first meeting.” In other words, Durban is a symbol of what people power can achieve and these next two weeks are without a doubt the right time for that legacy to grow.

Bryan Ferrell writes for Waging in Nonviolence.

May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
Dean Baker
Time for an Accountable Federal Reserve
Ted Rall
Working for US Gov Means Never Saying Sorry
Dave Welsh
Hunger Strikers at Mission Police Station: “Stop the execution of our people”
John Eskow
The Death of Prince and the Death of Lonnie Mack
May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
Ken Butigan
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, with Gratitude
Nicolas J S Davies
Escalating U.S. Air Strikes Kill Hundreds of Civilians in Mosul, Iraq
Binoy Kampmark
Class, Football, and Blame: the Hillsborough Disaster Inquest
George Wuerthner
The Economic Value of Yellowstone National Park
Rivera Sun
Celebrating Mother Jones
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir and Postcolonialism
Mairead Maguire
Drop the Just War Theory
Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail