This is an incomplete post salvaged from the internet archive.

-by Juan

We are happy to share some photos taken during our time in Kenya. You will find photos from the Conference of Youth, the United Nations Conference, some photos of the youth delegation, and photos from travels of the members of the SustainUS crew in Africa. We will continue to upload more images, please keep checking.

Hope you enjoy them!

Closing session… the count down

-by Juan

9:20pm : The COPMOP2 has adopted all decisions. The issues of voluntary commitments have been forwarded for futher consultation prior to COP13. All decisions adopted can be characterized as insignificant compromises. Russia accepted to move on without a decision on their proposal for commitments by non -Annex I parties in return for accepting Belarus into the ‘hot air’ club. The revision of the Kyoto will occur in 2008, and Parties missed the opportunity to improve the Protocol in Nairobi. For now, all the ‘climate tourist’ say good-bye from the Safari COP and will meet for yet another expensive meeting in Indonesia, perhaps for a Surf COP.

730pm: The 12th Conference of the parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is closed. We now move to the tricky part of this meeting: the closing of the 2nd Meeting of the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol. We truly hope that negotiations will be done before midnight, thought last year we were not able to move from the plenary until 630am. Many issues to still need to be addressed and resolved: the Russian proposal for voluntary commitments, the Belarusian intent to join Annex I to inject ‘hot air’ in the emission trading system, and the issues pertinent to Article 9 and the review of Kyoto. We wont move from here until progress is made, and we will update IGHGH frequently.

Also our business

-by Sarah

“Adaptation is also our business,” was the title of a side even this afternoon put on by members of the EU. The room was packed, and as we sat in rows and sweated, the presenters made some interesting and important points.

According to IPCC predictions, the Mediterranean is going to be one of the areas of the world most affected by climate change. Christina Narbona, Minister of Environment for Spain, pointed out that Spain is already experiencing massive dispalcement of population, severe droughts, a predicted 5-14% decrease in water resources in the 2030 horizon, and is also a developed nation which will be one of the first to receive migrants from Africa if and when the effects of more drastic climate change displaces them. Spain is also one of the only nations to have developed a NAPA (a National Adaptation Plan of Action). This includes trying to optimize water resources (currently Spain has very low water price and very high water consumption) and increase water resources. The plan also includes a lot of investment in research into future scenarios, which leaves me wondering about urgency and priority, two concepts which are difficult to concretize in this context because, in terms of the future, absolute certainty can never exist. The question and answer period brought an intelligent question to the minister: what about when adaptation plans undermine mitigation plans, such as the increased energy it would require to run desalinization plants to increase water supply? To this, the minister responded that there exists a program to produce renewable energy at the same rate as engergy conumption increases. (This, however, includes such things as hydro-electric dams, which wreak their own kind of environmental havoc, and on top of that, Spain has the second largest number of dams in the world.) The question of justice and equality also arises: Spain has the infrastructure to develop a NAPA, and compared to developing countries is very well off. However, like all nations, and perhaps (because of its location) moreso than other developed nations, it will be suffering from the predicted environmental changes as well. What is its responsibility to its own people and to those of other nations? What is everyone’s role in this world of changes? Big questions, and, like most big questions, probably unanswerable until we see what roles we take.

Francois Gemenne of the University of Liege pointed out the current and future problems of environmental refugees. Under the Geneva Convention, environmental refugees are not recognized. However, as Gemenne stated, recognition under Geneva probably wouldn’t meet the needs of environmental refugees (it is intended to protect those fleeing political turmoil), and anyway only applies to parties to the convention, which consists mostly of Northern states. According to the now-infamous Stern report, 200 million people could be permanently displaced by 2050, mostly due to rising sea levels (the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), those in the Arctic, and those living in coastal cities and floodplains). Village relocation, I found out, is already happening. For example, the US government apparently pays for trucks to come in to Arctic villages with cranes and physically move them.

The demographic, cultural, psychological, and resource burden of mass migrations is an overwhelming prospect. This is truly a human side to climate change. Although environmental factors have always and will always displace people, cause people suffering, as well as cause people times of great joy and prosperity (depending on how conducive the environment is to livlihood at the time), displacement- detachment from a place you feel is your home, disconnect from family and friends, loss of culture and language, increased potential for conflict between people who are different and feel they do not understand each other, increased strain on resources, the role of human emotions- will never be easy.

Gemenne proposed to extend the mandate of the UNHCR (High Commissioner for Refugees)- which was absent at this conference- to cover environmental refugees temporarily displaced. For the permanently displaced, he said, a “copycat of Kyoto” which consists of regional burden-sharing schemes- based on the polluter pays principle and on where the resources are- could be part of a solution. It’s Europe’s business, he said, because the EU needs to acknowledge its share of responsibility and needs to make massive shifts in immigration policy. (This is also entirely true of the U.S.)

And so we come back to it: the complexities of the challenge, the responsibility we share.

This is not political gloss-over

-by Sarah

I feel pretty confident saying that some of the statements delivered in this morning’s high level segment by NGOs had the blood pumping through the veins of the room.

Prior to the youth speech- which was delivered by three of our wonderful, intelligent, and inspiring number and ended in all of us calling loudly to pull together (”Harambe!”)- two African women in particular had a point to make, and courageously made it. Get on the ball.

Ms. Grace Akumu, on behalf of African NGOs, expressed gratitude and gladness to have met people here, formed relationships and partnerships, and to have learned so much in the past two weeks. She also highlighted the let-down that these negotiations have been for those with the most to lose if the predicted destruction comes to fruition. “It is our honest obdervation that COP12 was not meant to achieve any meaningful and tangible decisions that would reassure Africa,” she said.

“Those responsible for causing the problems of climate change appear always to come to negotiations driven first and foremost by economic interests, then political hegemony and lastly by environmental concerns.” This is eloquently put, in my opinion. It expresses the disconnect that occurs when we personify nations and place all value in economics rather than realizing that we are all people, together, with responsibility to each other. What followed in her statement are perhaps some of the most important words of this conference:

“No tangible and meaningful decision was arrived concerning equitable distribution of CDM projects,” she continued. “Although we are being told that we should keep in mind that CDM is market driven, we also wish to remind all that markets have not worked for Africa and they are not just about to. If they had worked, Africa, considering our endowment with all resources known to man, would not be in this pathetic state we are found in today. We wish to state that markets are creations by human beings and experience has proven they also fail. Therefore, should the avenue of free market be pursued, it will be a sure way to fail CDM in Africa.” The truth of these words shakes my bones.

Sharon Looremeta, Masaai project manager for Practical Action, did not hide her anger: “Climate change tourists, that’s what I call you,” she said. “You come here and take pictures, and then go home and forget about us. I hope these pictures stay with you forever, when you are deciding how to act.” Masaai herds are dying, she said. Livelihoods are disappearing, and people are suffering. She went on: “We said, “the review of the Kyoto Protocol was important for Africa, because we need more funds for adaptation — more than what we have now”, and you said, ‘later’;We said, “we need deeper emissions cuts so that our children and grandchildren can have a better chance in life”, and you said, ‘later’;We said, “we need new mechanisms to help sustainable development in Africa” and you said, ‘later’.I am a mother. I have a daughter. When she asks me what came out of the meeting in Nairobi, I don’t want to have to tell her that you said, ‘ask me again next year’.”

It is not fair that people suffer. Why should we put economic interests ahead of human ones? It seems these conferences are not the venue for real change, for taking real responsibility, for showing care for each other and acting on justice. I am glad I saw these women speak, and I am glad they had the opportunity to do so. I hope I, and others, can continue to hear their voices and that our voices come together even more.