Keep Kyoto agreement afloat, demand protesters

Wednesday, November 30, 2011 • Sandra Cox

Sweltering in life jackets under the hot Durban sun, ACT members demanded COP17 delegates do their utmost to save the world’s only legally binding climate deal.

Life-jacket clad protestors alluding to rising seas levels handed out leaflets for the church-related campaign, Time for Climate Justice.

While they laughed about wearing life jackets on land, their message was grave. They warned world leaders that the earth was on course to climate catastrophe, but that by agreeing to a second period of the climate regime they could turn the ship around in time.

The UN is committed to the principle of common but different responsibilities, giving a fair deal to those countries that have contributed the least but which are most affected.

The display was about people worst hit by climate change, said protestor Nana Darko, of Ghana.  “Western countries have all the technology and finance to cope with climate change. Here in Africa, such huge deficiencies of all those resources significantly constrain our ability to survive this menace. If we lose Kyoto, we lose so much.”

Alpha Ndung’u Gitau from the Kenya Youth Climate Network said it was odd to wear a lifejacket with no water in sight, but that protestors were ironically passing on an important message.

“Kyoto is the boat here, it is water. If we don’t save it now, we are going to drown, all of us. We have only one home. It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor. We are all going to suffer.”

Organiser Mariana Paoli, of Christian Aid, said the challenge was keeping a Protocol that upheld fairness to people in developing countries. “Poor people have done the least to contribute. Saving the Protocol is about climate justice. We sink or swim together.”

On November 30, several Latin American countries were reported as warning that the UN’s entire climate treaty system risked collapse because of the selfish position of developed nations.

The Alba group of nations – Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua , Ecuador, Cuba and the Dominican Republic – said reluctance by some countries to take part in a second commitment period jeopardised the whole Framework Convention on Climate Change.