Climate Negotiations

UN COP17 Climate Negotiations kick off in Durban

The 17th UN negotiations to try and limit the harmful effects of greenhouse gas emissions and potentially catastrophic climate change began on 28th November, in Durban South Africa. Since the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) entered into force in 1995, the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC have been meeting annually to assess progress in dealing with climate change.

With the slogan “Working Together; Saving Tomorrow Today”, it seems as though there is plenty of optimism and a will to achieve. However, recent COP meetings, in Copenhagen and Cancun, were felt by some to have failed to deliver lasting commitments from countries to decrease their greenhouse gas emissions.

Here’s an update from the UKYCC delegation in Durban on Monday 5 December:

“It’s the first day of the second week and the pressure’s started to build. This is the make or break week for the negotiations and I’ll be  honest – I’m afraid it’s going to be break time. There are some really important issues on the table – the one a lot of people are talking

about is the Kyoto Protocol. It’s the only legally binding treaty we have to reduce carbon emissions but it runs out in 2012. If we want to have emissions reduction targets (which we do), then we need action now.  The KP (as it’s called) only applies to developed countries. The US never signed up to it (they just don’t like playing fair or acknowledging that they’re part of the world) and now Canada is actively trying to kill it so it can sell highly polluting tar sand oil to every other country in the world for maximum profits. Japan and Russia are being lame too.

It’s not often I’m proud to be British but the EU, and the UK within it, are doing their best to keep it alive – I’m 100% of the way behind them. Say it loud and say it proud: ‘I heart KP!

Other important issues are having a broader mandate for a universal treaty that will cover both developed and developing countries come out of Durban. That, and money. Always with the money! But the UNFCCC want to create a Green Climate Fund to manage the money that will support mitigation and adaptation to climate change. The big question is, who’s going to take care of the money and where’s it going to come from?

For a more in-depth insight, check out the second UKYCC hand puppet video. If talking hands can’t explain what’s going on, nothing can!”

Websites to keep up to date with progress of the talks:

Go to Arcola Energy

New Metaphors for Sustainability: A matter of time

This post comes to you from Ashden Directory

Nick Robins’ metaphor suggests a profound shift in our perceptions of time. Nick works in the policy, operational and financial dimensions of corporate accountability and sustainability. He is author of The Corporation that Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational (2006) and in 2011 was rated as the leading analyst for climate change research in the ThomsonExtel survey.

In the end, sustainability is all about the allocation of the scarcest resource: time. How much time do we devote to what in the present, and how do we balance the imperatives of time past, time present and time future?

The task, then, is to defeat the ravages of geological time and transfer those things of value from one civilisation to the next, particularly now that we have passed during our lifetimes from the Holocene to the Anthropocene.

Nearly all of what we consider to be valuable in human society occupies a tiny fraction of our existence as a species (some 2 million years).

For me, Homer’s Iliad is the archetype of human value across time. As the poet Christopher Logue discusses in the introduction to his recent interpretation, War Music, the Iliad is already a work that has survived the collapse of a number of civilisations through luck, persistence and care. But will it survive ours?

The Iliad was written perhaps in the 8th century BCE, some 2,800 years ago. For me, sustainability means enabling those in the future to have an equivalent chance to benefit from this fundamental text, constructing an arc into the future 2,800 years long. This means that my time horizon is (or should be) 4811 AD, far further out that the 2050 timelines of the climate negotiations or the ‘seventh generation’ thinking of the counter-culture.

The consequences of this shift in perspective are profound: we need to conceive sustainability as beyond culture and indeed language, as the transmission of value beyond time.

All the metaphors in our series so far are collected here.

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ashdenizen is edited by Robert Butler, and is the blog associated with the Ashden Directory, a website focusing on environment and performance.
The Ashden Directory is edited by Robert Butler and Wallace Heim, with associate editor Kellie Gutman. The Directory includes features, interviews, news, a timeline and a database of ecologically – themed productions since 1893 in the United Kingdom. Our own projects include ‘New Metaphors for Sustainability’, ‘Flowers Onstage’ and ‘Six ways to look at climate change and theatre’.

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