Durban Climate Talks Begin

United Nation's Climate Change Conference

On November 28th, the 17th Conference of Parties (COP 17) to the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) began in Durban, South Africa. The UN Climate Talks will span two weeks and include delegates from 194 countries but also hundreds of public interest organizations and thousands of activists from around the world will join them to advocate for a fair, ambitious and binding agreement that will reduce global emissions, build vulnerable nations’ resilience to climate change and foster a low-carbon green economy globally.

One major concern is that of timing and urgency. In Durban, we are at a crucial turning point in addressing climate change. Governments will choose either to delay progress or recognize that meaningful action is needed now. The world is dangerously close to passing the threshold for runaway climate change. Delaying the negotiation of a global binding deal to 2020 will condemn people worldwide to suffering accelerating and uncontrollable effects of climate change for generations to come. To read more about why 2020 is too late to wait and for a daily insiders look at what is happening in the negotiations check out CAN-International’s overview here which will be published every day of the negotiations.

Just days before the talks started 53 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner urging the Obama administration to pursue a just and ambitious agenda in the climate talks. Susan Tambi Matambo, International Policy Coordinator with US Climate Action Network said in a press release about the letter, “Now, more than ever, strong leadership from the Obama administration is paramount to support those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The US has a unique opportunity in Durban to ensure that the Green Climate Fund is operational and provided with the finances required for adaptation, technology transfer and the reduction of deforestation in developing countries.” You can find this letter and many more resources on US CAN’s Durban Climate Talks web page.

This week a letter was delivered to Secretary of State Clinton from 16 U.S. environmental non-profit organizations expressing concern about the U.S. government’s negotiating posture at the climate treaty negotiations. They stated: “We feel there is much potential for US leadership at these talks to significantly move the world’s nations closer to harnessing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but also much potential for squandering this opportunity.” Read coverage of this effort in The Washington Post.

Please follow John Howard and Paul Thompson’s blogs during COP17 ( and join us for an event organized by our high school environmental leadership program, YEA! MN, with John and Paul, live from Durban, this Saturday December 3rd. Details below.

learnin from_durban

Join Youth Environmental Activists of Minnesota (YEA MN) for a live video link with Minnesotans Paul Thompson and John Howard on the ground at the COP17/CMP7 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa. Download the event flyer [PDF 92KB]


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