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Readers may be aware that through our work on our Pacific Calling Partnership initiative, ERC has supported attendance of delegations from Australia and from climate vulnerable Pacific Island communities to the Bali COP14, Copenhagen COP15, and Cancun COP16 UN Climate Change Summits.
The goal of these efforts has been to raise consciousness of the human face of climate change - which should be above considerations of a scientific, political or economic nature. Our positive experiences at these earlier events have affirmed for us the value of the investment in effort, time, finances and and carbon impact.
This year we have again sent a delegation to the UN COP17 Climate Change Summit being held in Durban, South Africa from 28th November 2010 to 9th December 2010. Read below in our Durban Diary the day by day news, analysis and reflections of delegates attending the summit in Durban as part of the Pacific Calling Partnership delegation.
Such efforts are only possible due to the support of our donors. Please consider if you too are able to make a donation to support ERC's hands-on advocacy work through the Pacific Calling Partnership to support the climate vulnerable.
Join Phil Glendenning, ERC Director, film maker Tom Zubrycki, and Pacific Calling Partnership delegates to Durban, Claire Anterea, and Geraldine Kearney, for a discussion on the significance of what happened in Durban and implications for the future of Pacific Island Countries.
5:30pm-8:00pm, Mon 12 Dec 2011
UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures
Room Cb10/04.470. Building 10 2nd Level
University of Technology Sydney
235 Jones St., Ultimo NSW
Well now we are finally here at Durban! It was great to be able to welcome Claire later that day!
The Dominican Sisters where we are staying have been most hospitable and helpful with our transport, meals and accommodation.
On the 25th Claire and I registered for COP 17! At this stage we still only had yellow NGO badges! However we met up with the Kiribati Delegation and kept reminding them to update our status as “pink badgers!”
On Friday 26th Tafue finally arrived from Tuvalu, after his long and eventful journey via Fiji Auckland, Brisbane and Dubai!
I accompanied Tafue the following day so that he could register and both Claire and I were pleased to receive our pink badges, which identified us members of the Kiribati Government Delegation.
There seemed to be so much still to be done in terms of organizing and management! Forklifts, roadblocks, shipping crates all added to the general hub of life! Something was afoot no doubt!
On Sunday afternoon the three of us joined with the Sisters in attending the interfaith rally at the Kings Park Stadium, where leaders of several denominations spoke including Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It was good to see the support of the religious leaders of all denominations giving their full support to the negotiations of COP17.
After a night of unremitting thunder, lightning, torrential rain and blackouts, (eight lives were lost just in the local area due to homes collapsing,) we had an early start and set off from home at 6.30 to board the shuttle bus to the International Convention Centre, about 15 minutes drive.
We met with the Kiribati delegation and attended the AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States) meeting and then attended the Opening Ceremony in the main hall. There was a great drumming, with colourful traditional Zulu dancing followed later by the arrival of South African President, Mr. Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma. We all stood to welcome him and then the programme continued.
Outgoing President of COP 16 Ms Patricia Espinosa Castellano, welcomed us and then handed over to the incoming President of COP 17, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of Internal Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa.
We paid a minute’s silent tribute to Mr. Mama Konate, Director General, National Met Service UNFCCC Focal Point, Bamako, Mali, who died on the 14th November. Mr. Konate was a great advocate for building adaptive capacity to climate change in Least Developed Countries, (LCD) and is sadly missed.
The agenda was then adopted, various office bearers elected and speakers representing various member parties given the floor.
In the words of Christiana Figueres, Executive-Secretary of UNFCCC:
It is clear that the second commitment period of the Kyoto protocol is linked to launching a process towards a broader multilateral rule-based system under the convention providing vigour and structure to the global effort to tackle climate change, and this may only be possible if it is both:
Finding a workable way forward in this complexity is the defining issue of this conference.
- Fair: grounded on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities; and
- Responsible: enabling parties to tackle the gap in the level of ambition needed to limit global average temperature increases to below two degrees Celsius in a timely fashion;
All participants of COP 17 were invited to the Welcome Reception at the Durban City Hall in the evening, where traditional dancers entertained us with their magical energetic and exotic dancing, and singing!
Love and blessings to all,
(for Claire, Tafue, and Gerry - PCP delegation: Tuvalu, Kiribati and Australia)
Gerry and I started our day as always getting up early and being dropped off by the sisters we are staying with at the Pavilion Centre where we get the shuttle bus to the International Conference Centre. The sun was up and the atmosphere was nice and warm.
At eight o’clock we went to the AOSIS meeting and met up with the Kiribati delegations and Tafue.
At the AOSIS meeting there were still discussions on the Draft Statement which was presented by Grenada at the plenary yesterday.
After the AOSIS Meeting we had to rush to attend the opening of the 'Portraits of Resilience' Programme which was held at the Science Museum here in Durban City. You may remember that many of my photos from Kiribati were included in this gallery. It was great to meet John Crump again after our introductory meeting when we attended 'Many Strong Voices' in Bali in 2007.
The presentation was so informative about the good work of the 'Many Strong Voices' and the stories collected from the Artic to Kiribati, Tuvalu and other small island states.
I was so fortunate to be able to be part of the launch of the 'Portraits of Resilience' as my work with the children back home in Kirbati was shown there too. The launch was so beautiful and students from Durban presented their beautiful cultural dances with drums. At the museum we made a good connection with local teachers and museum staff and exchanged contact details.
After lunch we went to have a meeting with members of the delegation from Kiribati to keep in touch with their expectations of us as to how best to help them.
This afternoon it was a joy to attend the side event hosted by Youth @ SAIIA (South African Institute of International Affairs.) 18 young delegates from 6 provinces of South Africa gave six presentations on water, deforestation, global food crisis, and the South African Youth Protocol. This protocol was read and presented to the Minister present to be delivered to the negotiation table at COP 17.
The youth were very inspiring and grounded in their information and professional in their delivery. I learnt lots about how I might enthuse my youth to maybe write their own protocol to be delivered by the Kiribati Government Delegation at the next COP. I made myself known to the Youth Development Officer, Desiree Kosciulek and we promised to keep in touch and exchange ideas and stories.
Tomorrow morning I will meet with Sandy Chambers from AYCC to organize the making of the video of 'Voices from the Pacific.' I will also book my time for a press interview.
That’s about all we have done so far today! Now we are about to go and be part of the 'Fossil of the Day' award. It will go to Canada and the USA – again!
Will keep in touch,
Hello to everyone!
We have had a few hectic days trying to fit everything in. Sometimes it is a case of waiting around for scheduled meetings that don’t eventuate.
We have continued to attend the meeting each day of AOSIS (Association of Small Island States) after which we have tried to meet up with the Kiribati Government Delegation and also CANA (Climate Action Network Australia).
Yesterday we managed to attend the meeting of the AWG-LCA (Ad-hoc Working Group - Long-term Cooperative Action) which was open to all parties and observers.
After this Claire attended the meeting of CANA (Climate Action Network Australia) and I attended the AWG-LCA meeting on Capacity Building for the Kiribati Government delegation.
There was a request to the SBI (Subsidiary Body of Implementation) to further enhance the monitoring and review of the effectiveness of capacity building implementations and activities in regard to AOSIS.
I have yet to catch up with Kiribati Government delegation to see the outcomes of these negotiations. It is good to be on the tracking mailing list for AOSIS Documents, but this involves much reading and trying to keep up to date with proposals.
There was a comprehensive workshop on Information Communication Technology given by an impressive panel including presenters form Manchester, India, Nairobi and Microsoft, that the Kiribati government was keen for me to attend! Again as one woman from Ghana expressed, “there is always disparity on many fronts,” including gender, poverty etc.
Today Dec 2nd Claire was interviewed for a video clip by Sandy Chambers from AYCC (Australian Youth Climate Coalition), and afterwards by Anthony Lucas, a French journalist, from AFP (Agence France Presse) and Global French News Press.
These were both good awareness raising opportunities and both Sandy and Anthony have requested to join Pacific Calling Partnership to keep abreast with news and views. I have followed up both requests and sent them the fact sheet on the current state of Kiribati regarding impacts of climate change, published by joint production by the Australian Government and the CSIRO in cooperation with the Government of Kiribati as part of the the Pacific Climate Change Science Program.
I have just finished attending the CANA meeting for today. Georgina is doing a great job at keeping us posted re the Australian Government Delegation and the negotiations. She is grateful for the support of Pacific Calling Partnership.
I attended the gathering for “Survival Rally” at which the Chair of AOSIS, Dessima Williams, Grenada's ambassador to the UN, and also the ambassadors from Nauru and the Seychelles addressed the gathering. All three, joined by a strong contingent of women from the 'Rural Women’s Association' spoke passionately about our global interconnectedness and interdependency thus the urgency of calling for a legally binding agreement and climate justice.
Claire and I met briefly with Tafue before going on to the Pacific Pavilion for the Pacific Events. There were presentations from SPREP (Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program) focusing on PNG and Tokelau. Tomorrow at 2pm the Minister from Tokelau will be giving a presentation. Greg Combet, Minister for Climate Change will be arriving tonight.
We are not going to the NGO function tonight as it clashes with a request from the Dominican Sisters where we are staying to have a night with them since their Regional Leader Sr Anne Walsh is visiting. It is another good opportunity to share some of our story and ministry with them. They have been so hospitable and supportive.
Post-script: Sat 3rd Dec 2011
It is now early Saturday morning (4 am) and I am endeavoring to complete this report since we are running a bit behind. We had a wonderful night last night and the Sisters were entranced by Claire’s beautiful and sensitive presentation in dance, video, and testimony, of the Kiribati situation and culture. It was an eye opener for them, and a great opportunity to share some of the Zulu, Irish and Lebanese cultures as well! It was a wonderful and I am sure will be a memorable night.
We head off again early this morning for the AOSIS meeting and the day’s programme. Tafue has been following negotiations keenly and will send a report shortly.
Till the next installment,
(for Tafue, Claire and Gerry)
Monday came, and I met up with the Tuvalu delegation after the AOSIS meeting and had our first delegation meeting, where we divided ourselves up into three groups in order to be able to cover issues of interest to Tuvalu. I was with the group that was to follow the Finace Agenda item 3.4 which is under the AWG-LCA Contact Group, which is about the establishment of the Standing Committee, in pursuant of the Bali Action Plan n1/CP.16. A text was to be produced under informal negotiations and to be agreed by the COP on the second week of this meeting. This discussion was not as easy as it looks, for the different parties have different ideas of how to set up this Standing Committee. A draft text was produced by the end of the first week, but up until Saturday we cannot all agree on a common ground on how this committee be operationalized. Today is Monday and we are still negotiating on the text. Briefly, the text defines how the Cancun decision for the establishment of this committee be implemented
The second issue that I have been following is on the NAMAs (National Appropriate Mitigation Actions), and this is also in response to a Cancun decision. The draft text as a base of negotiation was produced by the Chair, and negotiations started on Monday 28th to the 2nd of December when our contact group finally came to have a common agreement and finalize the text.
The third issue that I followed was on Capacity Building also under the AWG-LCA contact group. The main focus of the working group is to produce a text on how the capacities of the regions can be enhanced focusing on the need to establish what is called the National Implementing Agencies. The NIA are national financial institutions established to enable fast implementation of national adaptations. This means that the funds for national adaptation will be managed by this institution. By Saturday December the 3rd, this working group has agreed on a text that establishes the need to run regional workshops for this purpose. The one intended for the Pacific Region is planned for the second half of 2013.
The fourth Issue is on Loss and damage. On this issue, the focus is the need to identify, analyze and compensate Parties for any loss and damage to a particular country whop experiences extreme events due to Climate Change. The AOSIS proposed to include in the text the slow onset impacts on the Small Island States, and this was agreed. By Saturday the 3rd December, the group has agreed on a text that is to be presented to the COP’s main plenary for a decision.
The last issue that I was asked to follow was on Finance, Agenda Item 3.4 which includes the establishment of the Standing Committee and Long Term Financing. The establishment and the operationalization of the Standing Committee will enable this committee to oversee the whole finance of UNFCCC. It was not easy to agree on a text, especially on where this committee will report to. There were countries that pushed for the Committee to report directly to COP and there were countries that wanted it to report to the SBI so that the Parties can have a bigger say in what the committee does. Up to the middle of the second week, this group has not agreed on the first few paragraphs of the text and they have not even touched the composition of the committee.
On the Long Term Financing, there have been a lot of financial pledges by the developed countries, but the issue here is that they have not been faithful to their pledges. This working group was to produce an agreed text on how to mobilize funds to finance adaptation and mitigation work under the Bali work plan. It was discussed in length for the whole of the first week, and a text is expected to be agreed on before the end of the second week. This is to ensure that the developed countries contribute as pledged, and at least a US$100 billion per year is made available for adaptation funding from 2012 to 2020.
Tuvalu came to Durban with three main expectations, and these are first, an agreement on amendments and rules to the Kyoto Protocol to establish a second commitment period. This means that we have ratifiable amendments with provisional entry into force so that there is no gap in the second commitment period. Secondly, an agreement on a mandate to commence negotiations of a new protocol that will run in parallel with the Kyoto Protocol. This process should start here in Durban and be completed within 12 months. Thirdly, was our expectation was to ensure a substantial work program on Loss and Damage.
The main obstacle to our expectations was in particular the US and Australia. The US does not want to do anything until 2020 and Australia decided to stand in the middle. The EU who was in the beginning was supporting our stand advocated by the LDC and AOSIS have started to make their stand conditional, and Japan issued a statement saying that they are ready for any commitment especially on emission reduction, but starting in 2020. Canada refuses to do anything with the KP saying that it is in the past.
Negotiations was not easy and we have two more days left to come up with an outcome that should be the stepping stone for progressive action on the fight against Climate Change.
Apart from the main negotiation works, I attended a press conference organized by the African inter religious group titled “ Faith and science on the same page” and they issued a very strong statement saying that there is an urgent need to act on this critical issue. I also did an interview with Clancy Moore for the Oxfam Australia website.
My general feelings about this convention are those of disappointment. There is no sense of urgency in the negotiations and the issue is treated with political mandates and self-interests rather than with urgency and sincere concern for the wellbeing of Mother Earth and the most vulnerable. Everyone wants to be recognised as vulnerable.
Whatever the outcome may be in the next two days, it should not be a weak outcome, it should be a strong outcome to show the world that we are serious about solving this problem, and seeing how things are going, we need a miracle to accomplish such an outcome.
Rev. Tafue Molu Lusama
Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu
(member of the Tuvalu Delegation)
Here we are again on the beat! The atmosphere is a-buzz with apprehension, some frustration as we wait anxiously for the outcome of the negotiations. There is a courageous determination on the part of the LCDs (UN/UNFCCC sub-grouping: Least Developed Countries) though and that gives us the energy and passion to continue the fight.
But first let me go back a few days to last Saturday and fill in the record of our involvements.
On Saturday Claire and I attended the Durban March from 9am -2pm. It was a long hall and over 10000 people participated. It was a peaceful protest and the energy and commitment of the participants palpable. The Africans really know how to gather, chant and march in solidarity!
Being both NGO representatives but also 'Government Party' badge-holders in the summit gives us many advantages here in Durban (Claire and I are credentialed as support members of the Kiribati Government delegation and Tafue with that of Tuvalu!) The Anglican Bishop of Durban spoke at the commencement of the march and Cardinal Napier spoke at the pre-rally gathering. The churches are visibly involved and committed to justice! Participating in the march had the added advantage of enabling Claire to give two interviews 'on the run' so to speak.
The first interview was for African Television and it went to air last night. Unfortunately we missed seeing it but were informed that we may be able to get the footage. We will try today! We have added that to our PCP list.
The second interview was by a US journalist for the Pacific. We have not heard any more from them. He was keen to know why Claire as a member of a party was marching! Claire's response was:
I support my Government, but I am also here to carry the voice of my people who experiencing the impacts of climate change so that their cries for help may be heard. Not just theirs but all those who are in a most vulnerable state. The negotiators must listen. For some of us it is already too late! How many more COPS do we need to attend to get a commitment?
I met with Tafue in between a couple of plenary sessions. The long march in the sun certainly gave us both headaches!
Sunday was a day to connect with the local people in the area. We attended a two and a half hour Mass, celebrated to commemorate World AIDS Day. Claire was impressed that for the first time she saw a lay person and a woman at that, giving the homily! The homily focused on the rising number of aides related deaths, especially in Africa.
"I was struck," Claire commented "how South African people worship and pray using their whole bodies, their song their movements, their dance! All in prayerful praise!"
After Mass we were taken to 'Street Wise' where one of the sisters we are staying with ministers to street boys and some orphans whose parents have died from AIDS. They are housed in an old printing press building which was once owned by the Marion Hill Brothers. The building is in dire need of maintenance and with the government able to provide only very limited support the sisters struggle to provide ongoing support for the boys' care, counselling and reconciliation with their families where possible, and some education and training for their future. "We have no street kids in Kiribati," said Claire. "My eyes have truly been opened!"
After lunch and a short rest we were taken to the shanties on the steep incline at Palmlett and L section where one of the sisters works as a social worker, her office in an old modified shipping container. There are only 2 mobile toilets to service some 4,000 people and one water source where women come with their buckets and containers to gather water for washing, cooking a drinking. The shanties are built out of discarded timber, cardboard, a rice bags and are all connected. So if one collapses the others are taken with it. It is so sad to see. "We do not have this kind of poverty in Kiribati, it is such a shock to see!" Claire agreed. A sobering prelude to what seems an uphill battle in the negotiating arena this week!
Let me continue in catching up with news of events here from earlier this week...
As the ministers from different countries arrive, one can feel the momentum gathering. Voices are more strained, huddles more visible and one needs danger money to avoid being run over by trolley bags and likewise running over fellow delegates with one’s own bag, as we all mill through the maze trying to do our little bit.
This week has been hectic with many ad hoc meetings and timetable changes. I do apologise for not keeping up to date with the reporting but life has been hectic.
We have continued with our schedule regardless of the seeming desperation of securing and ratifying a second term commitment for the Kyoto Protocol.
Attending the AOSIS meeting each morning (Association of Small Island States) has been a priority and certainly I for one have been more enlightened as to the negotiations, perseverance and determination of these small island states.
The Australian delegation held a reception which was attended by all NGOS and delegates. It was a great opportunity to meet with Climate Change Minister Greg Combet who recognised us and was very affirming of Claire and her work. He mentioned the film “The Hungry Tide” and said that "more people should see that!" I wish I had taken the opportunity to offer to take him to Kiribati!
Greens Senator Christine Milne on the other hand spoke at length with us mentioning her long haul of attendance at 14 COPS to date. She quoted a minister from a Small Island State saying about ten years ago that if the world leaders knew that five countries would disappear within a given time, but not be told which ones, what would the global response be? She then said she had never forgotten his words; "If it is my country then, who will take my people?" Claire and I promptly chimed in and said that we had a song entitled, "Who will take my people?" Christine enthusiastically asked us to send her a copy.
High level security accompanies the mounting momentum as the time approaches for the opening of the High Level talks as Ministers arrive for the top level negotiations. There was admission by ticket only to the opening with limited numbers for all delegations.
The procedures were linked on screen in the adjoining main hall where the rest of the delegates could observe the proceedings.
Banki Moon in his opening address spoke passionately and with urgency. He spoke of his experience in Kiribati and his conversation with a young child who expressed fear of sleeping at night lest he be swept away by the sea!
The plight of the least developed countries and the small island states has been one focus of negotiations and draft documents, but yet there is strong opposition on the part of US and Co to agreeing to the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. This gives limited hope for any ratification that will bring about practical progress and the enabling of the GFC (Green Climate Fund).
Negotiators are working well into the early hours trying to get a break through.
Still we cling on with determination to our plea for climate justice. Sometimes I get so disillusioned …so many people..so many words…and what will be the outcome…and how many more COPS will it take?
Gerry, Claire and Tafue.
Link to live blog from UK newspaper The Guardian with regular updates (approx every 30min) of proceedings at negotiations during the key final days of COP17 in Durban
The Guardian's live Durban-blog
Senator Christine Milne on twitter
Sen Milne's twitter feed
Minister Greg Combet does not have a twitter
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Fact-sheets on key issues:
ERC initiative the Pacific Calling Partnership promotes awareness of the devastating effects of climate change on low-lying island communities of the Pacific. The PCP campaign goes beyond both the science and the spin to make evident 'the human face of climate change'.
Update: ERC Director, Phil Glendenning, recently returned to Australia from Afghanistan after 10 days interviewing returned asylum seekers again in Kabul.
ERC is redoubling our efforts to find a third-country resettlement option for those returnees from Australia with whom we have been able to make contact. We need financial support to achieve this.
Such work uncovers high levels of risk for the deportees (and for our researchers). Research publications are available here.
Listen to Phil speak of the visit to ABC Radio National's Phillip Adams.
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