After nearly a year on the road, around 5,000 miles covered and 250 species in the bag, Gary Prescott, aka the biking birder, has finally become the first person ever to visit every RSPB nature reserve in one year, and on a bike no less!
Gary, a special needs teacher from Warwick, finally finished his epic journey on Saturday 18 December with a trip to the RSPB’s HQ at the Lodge, Bedfordshire. An escort of honour, made up of RSPB staff members, met him in one of the neighbouring villages and cycled the last few miles with him.
Amongst those willing to brave the weather were members of the RSPB’s climate change policy and campaigns team. One of the aims of Gary’s expedition was to raise awareness about the threats posed by climate change so it was the least we could do to come out and support him on the last leg of his journey! Gary’s been visiting schools around the UK, spreading the message about the threat of climate change and encouraging his young audiences to do their bit to halt it.
Before he began his journey on 1 January, Gary said “I would like people to think about what they are going to do to help prevent catastrophic climate change.” As well as flying the flag for climate change awareness, Gary has also been raising money for the RSPB, the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust, and Asthma UK.
Despite the weather’s best efforts, Gary has finally made it home, so all that’s left to say is congratulations and thank you!
To much applause from those assembled, early on Saturday morning (11 December) a deal on climate change was agreed here in Cancun. Whilst the content of the agreement will scarcely scratch the surface of the climate crisis, the fact that agreement was possible is remarkable following the bad faith and mistrust engendered by Copenhagen just a year ago.
In the end, the only country that looked like blocking a deal was Bolivia, but on the grounds that the agreement was not ambitious enough rather than simply being obstructive. Japan looked a threat for a while, but a series of phone calls to the PM from other leaders, including President Calderon of Mexico and David Cameron, fixed the problem. The country that made the agreement possible was Mexico, whose minster, Patricia Espinosa, consulted endlessly with everyone together with her huge team, including the President.
Some have accused the agreement as papering over the cracks of fundamental differences between nations. But this is true of any multilateral agreement - everyone has to compromise and in Cancun everyone did compromise in an open and transparent process.
At best, this meeting was intended to break the logjam of mistrust amongst nations and define ways forward to a comprehensive agreement in Durban next year. This it has done.
Important deals on substance were also made here. A green fund is established that will help pay for developing countries to both reduce their emissions and adapt to climate change. A scheme to save tropical forest is established, with excellent safeguards for biodiversity and the rights of indigenous people - the RSPB can claim a share of the credit for this. Much more work is still to be done on these matters but the show is on the road again and confidence is high.
It is strangely silent here now. The players in the big UN circus have decamped leaving a few bemused Mexican tourists in our vast hotel complex. The shell shocked iguanas are coming out of their holes to their place in the sun and the caimans are again gliding around the ponds.
Some good news at last! The UN climate talks in Cancun have
ended in a deal which represent a small but significant step towards a global
climate deal that keeps global climate change within ‘safe’ limits.
In addition to some solid commitments, including a new green
climate fund that will go towards protecting rainforests, reducing emissions
and adapting to climate change in developing countries, the deal has
effectively saved the multilateral process. Had the Cancun talks broken down
into acrimony as they did in Copenhagen, it could have been the end of the line
for the climate talks.
Instead, we can now work towards a global deal at the next
UNFCCC meeting this time next year in South Africa.
We’ll post more analysis of the deal here in due course, and
particularly what it will mean for forests, which is what the RSPB has been
working particularly hard on throughout these talks.
Here’s what John Lanchbery, our lead on the UN climate talks
and forests expert had to say before finally retiring to the beach after 2
weeks hard work -
“The deal is done. The UN climate talks go forward. The
multilateral process lives after its near death experience in Copenhagen.
Nations worked together in Cancun under the excellent leadership of Mexico.”
“Much remains to be done over the next year but core deals
were done here on vital issues. There is to be a green fund to help developing
countries adapt to climate change and a good start was made on a global regime
to save tropical forests.”
“The world is still far from being saved but the prospects
are looking much better.”
can see a picture of John and Mel doing their thing in Copenhagen in a nice
photo gallery on the Guardian website here
And finally, here's a pic of a Yucatan Jay watching in on the negotiations snapped by Mel on her blackberry as she hurried between meetings....