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Syndicated: Liveblogging the Last Day

In November and December 2011, I attended the United Nations climate change conference (COP17) in Durban, South Africa.  I will be periodically syndicating my blog posts from other websites here on the Solution.  I’m doing this for two reasons.  First, I want an archive of my work here, on my site, under my name.  Second, as I will discuss in a forthcoming post, climate change is an animal rights issue.  I hope that Solution readers will be interested, therefore, in my commentary on the climate talks.

The last day of COP17, Friday 9 December 2011, stretched well on into the night – and then into the Saturday, and then into the Saturday night.  It finally finished a little after 0600 on the morning of Sunday 11 December 2011.  Fellow youth delegate Rachel Dobric and I live-blogged the extended last Friday of the conference.  The below is part one of that liveblog, reposted with Rachel’s permission, unedited.

We are liveblogging the last day of COP17 from inside and outside the conference centre.  Check back regularly for updates.

Latest is first.  If you don’t like what you read, email, tweet, or otherwise contact your MP.

We’ve broken day two of the last day into a new post.  For further updates, go here.

Overnight: Security guards patrolled the corridors – encouraging people to leave and insisting they wanted the buildings empty. Rumours flew that they were trying to expel the NGOs, and that we wouldn’t be let in again if we left. Talks were suspended until midnight, and then until Saturday. Hoping we were right in believing our badges would be extended through the following day, NZYD headed home for some much needed rest. On the way, we crossed to Speakers’ Corner and the Occupy camp to get away from the confusion and sterility of the conference centre. There weren’t many people there; it was clear most had gone home, leaving only a faithful few to beat their drums and sing late into the night. It would’ve been peaceful under the trees if it weren’t for the speeding cars and the bright lights of the Hilton across the road.

Caffeine and conversation until the very wee hours. Then sleep.

2315, ICC hall, Baobab plenary/computer labs/occupied offices, inside: The Chair has taken the plenary through all agenda items relating to SBSTA quite quickly.  The meeting is adjourned until sometime in the morning.  Word is that the last texts were too pro-US.  YOUNGO people are wandering the halls taping signs saying “Where is my future? I’m sure you have it.” to things (mostly to themselves).  We have set up camp in an abandoned office.

It’s all getting a bit JG Ballard.  Rumours are flying around on Twitter.  People are sleeping in the halls of the ICC.  The Canadians have a designated sleep room occupied in the DEC.

We have no idea when this will finish.  Some delegates apparently have suggested adjourning to Rio+20 next year.  Others have suggested working through until Sunday, even (which perhaps makes more sense, as Rio+20 is a three-day conference!).

Interesting times.

2046, ICC hall, Baobab plenary, inside: The plenary is currently debating rules of procedure.  We have hunkered down in the corner with copies of the draft texts.

You can read a transcript of the Colossal Fossil here:

“New Zealand wins the 1st place Fossil. The New Zealand government got a Fossil this week for severely mixed messages about its Kyoto Protocol 2nd Commitment Period stance. This time, it made it clear, describing Kyoto as ‘actually an insult to New Zealand’. The only insult is to the citizens of New Zealand and the rest of the world, who will have to suffer the costs of climate change.”

2014; DEC hall, inside: We’re back in the conference centre after a quick dinner break (bunny chow down the road), heading into the ICC to see what’s happening.  The DEC is almost empty.  A few NGO campaigners are still in the cafeteria, plotting the long haul ahead tonight.  They’ve already started to take apart the entry hall and the expo area outside.

New Zealand won a Fossil of the Day today, for the Minister, Tim Groser MP, declaring that a second commitment period woud be an “insult“.

Canada, unsurprisingly, won the Colossal Fossil, but kindly passed the moral victory on to the USA.

Heading to the ICC now!

1740, DEC hall, inside: We’re preparing for the final Fossil of the Day ceremony now.  We’d just like to draw your attention to the great intervention that Anjali gave this morning on behalf of YOUNGO:

I speak for more than half the world’s population.

We are the silent majority. You’ve given us a seat in this hall, but our interests are not on the table.

What does it take to get a stake in this game? Lobbyists? Corporate influence? Money?

You have been negotiating all of my life. In that time, you’ve failed to meet pledges, you’ve missed targets, and you’ve broken promises.

Here’s a video, courtesy of Katie O’Brien from Sierra Student Coalition:

1728, DEC hall, inside: Videos from the last hour.

1720, DEC hall, inside: Just returned from the ICC.  Those protestors who chose to remain and be removed have mostly been escorted out.  UN Security were extremely reasonable.  There were no signs of violence until the very end.  Small groups of peaceful protestors chanted as blue-shirted security escorted them out.  One of our delegates overheard the head of security explaining that he did not wish to have them removed, because so many were so young, and also because their home countries might object.  The only scuffle I saw was brief, and at the very end, after the last few protestors chose to begin a sit in, when security shoved a photographer.

A large crowd had gathered in support.  They joined the chanting, and sung songs of support.

1634, DEC hall (coming down around us), inside: Video from the protest 1:

1623, DEC hall (being dismantled), inside: We just got back from the ICC.  For those who don’t know, COP17 is split into two main venues: the DEC hall, where most of the civil society booths and side events are; and the ICC, where the real negotiations are going on.  In the DEC, t-shirts and jeans have been the norm all week; in the ICC, suits and ties.

Currently, the main floor of the ICC is blocked off outside the plenary hall by a mass of chanting protestors.  Two lines of volunteers and UN security are keeping access open to the plenary session.  On one side of this corridor, the protestors are yelling and chanting, often through the “human microphone”.  On the other, the media (and bloggers) are amassed, filming the crowd.  It’s a little surreal.  A line of blue-shirted volunteers control access to the foyer of the plenary hall.

Inside the ICC, all social media are offline.  The internet appears to be working otherwise.  The rumour mill says that social media have been blocked on wifi.

Videos and photos coming soon.

Security has told the protestors that, if they move outside, they can keep their badges and continue to protest.

1500, DEC hall, inside: Just 12 hours left.  Maybe even 18,  The atmosphere here in the Convention Centre is grim.  In the DEC hall, where civil society has mostly been encamped, all the booths are coming down.  The businesses, universities, NGOs, and IGOs are packing up their things and going home.  It feels like civil society is leaving.

Our delegation has split into two.  The majority are off to join a variety of protest actions, making a last push for, in short, two very simple things: a plan for a solid, real, new treaty by 2015 and a second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol.  There are countless other issues tied into those, but all ultimately come down to two last minute hands of poker.  We’re all in: If the cards go one way, global temperature rise may stay below two degrees this year.  If the other, we will have locked in a warming of at least two degrees, probably largely in our lifetimes, causing suffering and death on an incredible scale.

Two or three of us are staying in here. Until. It’s. Done.  We will be liveblogging on Twitter and continually updating this post as we learn more of what’s happening inside and outside the ICC/DEC convention centre.  Keep checking back.

If you don’t like what you’re reading on this blog or Twitter or in the international press, please: Contact Tim Groser MP.  Contact your local MP. Email them.  Message them on Facebook.  Tell them what you think on Twitter.  This negotiation isn’t over until it’s over, and there remains a very, very slim chance that New Zealand might soften its stance.  Let’s keep pushing and hope.

Originally posted by me on the New Zealand Youth Delegation website.  All photographs and intellectual property in this post solely mine unless otherwise stated.

About David Tong

Climate campaigner | Cyclist | Photographer | Vegan | Straight Edge || Views my own


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