During November PhD student Laura Obermuller witnessed events unfold at the Durban climate change talks.

This is cross-posted for anyone interested in a first person view o...


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Day 5: Monday 28th November, 2011: The Opening of the COP17/CMP7. Invitations to attend the opening ceremony were very limited and in high demand. Whilst walking to the ICC I noticed an increased police presence: riot vehicles in attendance, a police helicopter flying over the ICC. I was a bit concerned that the increased security would reveal that my identification badge had expired; however, not to worry, the UN security swiped my badge and allowed me to enter. Once I had cleared security I got copies of the daily program then checked my emails. I took photos.

After the opening ceremony I interviewed Jurgen Lefevere; European Commission: Directorate-General for Climate Action who was co-chairing the AOSIS meeting. And at lunch I met Thomas Paka, Executive Director, Eco Forestry Forum Papua New Guinea; he pointed out that the atmosphere in Durban is very relaxed; more so than Copenhagen and other COP meetings. He further stated that the people are not passionate; there is not a lot of pressure, that people have given up. This should be one of the most important COP events given that the Kyoto Protocol comes to an end in 2012. Countries are getting involved with individual agreements like the Guyana/ Norway accord. In his view these agreements are bad; Guyana threatens Norway saying ‘give us the monies as promised or we will cut the forest’. Countries are joining REDD for the cash and this should not be the objective; it should be the climate change issues.

Following lunch I went in search of the Norwegian Delegation which was located in the European Union Pavilion. I was able to get the contact details for the people who are working on the Guyana/Norway agreement and contact details for Norwegian NGO’s that were at the COP. I left the pavilion and went in search of the Bellona Foundation; a Norwegian NGO. While there I met Jonas Helseeth who agreed to be interviewed. He stated that their main objective at the COP was to connect with people who could work together to solve climate change issues in addition to forming partnerships in research with other NGO. When asked about possible outcomes he stated that it was difficult to say. I spent the rest of the day meeting other delegations and reading the AOSIS draft report. Most of the people I interacted with said they did not expect any breaking decision at this COP, others expressed concerns about the enormous cost, and standards, of their hotels. Had dinner with members from a German NGO at one of several restaurants located on the conference premises, and then left the ICC at 8:30.


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