As explained by John Lanchbery, who is in Durban for the RSPB doing his best to help get an effective deal to protect rainforests.
Guest post from John Lanchbery, Principle Climate Change Adviser at the RSPB, in Durban
The tropical storm that has been brewing all day has fallen upon Durban this evening, just in time to catch representatives of the World’s environment and development groups on their way back from a strategy meeting at the University of Kwa Zulu Natal. We are all hoping that this is not an omen for the UN climate change negotiations which begin today.
The local weather certainly merits Durban hosting the climate talks. The rains that should be about to start in December actually started in August and the rivers are in spate. We asked Keith, the BirdLife S Africa volunteer from Durban who drove us in from the airport, what the huge brown stains were that stretched way out to sea. He explained that they were vast amounts of silt washed down the Teluga river north of Durban. This always happens, but not so much, not three months early and not with even more heavy rain forecast.
The climate talks look like being as unpredictable as the local weather. In Copenhagen in 2009 the UN negotiations crashed but were resuscitated last year in Cancun where genuine progress was made, on finance, on adaptation to climate change and on saving tropical forests. Yet, in many ways, the Mexican meeting reached agreement on issues that could arguably have been agreed in Copenhagen. This year, we are back to trying to crack the really hard nuts that could not be cracked in Copenhagen.
The latest science, and most of the old science, says that we need absolute cuts in global emissions now, or certainly within the next few years. The aim of the UN process, agreed in Cancun, is to keep the Earth’s average surface temperature rise to less than two degrees Centigrade. With current promises on emission reductions from governments worldwide, we are heading for a three to five degree World. This does not sound much until you realise the about 10% of species are likely to be ‘committed to extinction’ for each one degree rise.
We do not want to risk losing half of the World’s species. That is why the RSPB and our BirdLife Partners are here.
The Durban meeting is not going to fix all of these huge problems in one go, but it does need to get things moving apace. Our overall policy agenda is clear. In terms of the big political things that you will hear about in the news media, we are advocating a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol together with the start of negotiation on a new and even better treaty to be concluded by the end of 2015, at the latest.
Within this framework, the RSPB and its many BirdLife Partners will be working to ensure that emission reductions are set at a level which will ensure that natural ecosystems can survive human-induced climate change, that tropical deforestation is halted and natural forests are conserved and that emissions from forests in developed
This is a powerful video presentation that was played at our conference the other week by Moussa Abou Mamouda (from ENDA Senagal & Africa Adapt). Clearly shows how people and nature are already being affected by climate change in Africa.
Thanks to colleagues at WWF and Mairi Dupar at CDKN for getting the video made.
See earlier posts for more on the conference.