While we await the outcome of the final hours of negotiations tomorrow there is still an optimistic undercurrent that a deal will be reached that will satify the majority. Yesterday US Secretary of State John Kerry called on nations collectively to hammer out an ambitious agreement.
« We have to act within the next 36 to 48 hours. In this moment we have the rarest of opportunities to change the world. Our task is clear. Our moment is now. Let’s get this job done ».
The event I attended yesterday, referred to in my previous blog, with Bill McKibben as one of the panellists, also included Sandra Steingraber from EcoWatch and Weonah Hauter from Food and Water Watch. All three outlined in some detail the appalling dangers of fracking both to health and to the climate.
Their message was that fracking is totally irresponsible and absolutely should not be allowed. New York State has taken a lead and banned it . Renewables are there to be used so there is no need for natural gas to be extracted.
While I was attending this side event, Cris Banahan went to another at the same time at which a spokesman for the IPCC confirmed that they were looking for contributions to the 6th Assessment Report on topics not previously covered. She spoke to them afterwards about our involvement earlier in the COP. I have subsequently learnt that the anticipated date for publishing AR6 will be 2022 so we have a little time !
When I have settled down to a more normal lifestyle once again I propose to write a paper highlighting some of the issues that have been addressed in the side events that I and other members of the team have attended, to give an indication of where INTO and its members may be able to play a part in securing the future of the planet thus protecting their heritage for future generations.
This morning I met with Nanette Woonton the Communications Officer for the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and by chance, the Director General elect, Mr Kosi Latu, to ask about ngo’s conserving the heritage of the Pacific islands. They directed me to the AOSIS pavilion where I spoke with Dr Mahendra Kumar, Climate Change Advisor for the Pacific Islands Development Forum. He, in turn, mentioned the Samoa Conservation Society which was established recently and would certainly be worth approaching as a potential member.
It transpired that Dr Kumar, who lives in Fiji, knows Robin Yarrow well, which nicely oiled the wheels of our discussion ! A small world.
Soon after these meetings I attended another side event ‘Climate Change- the greatest human rights challenge of our time’. I was attracted to go to it partly because of the direct links with the Victoria and Entebbe Declarations and also because Mary Robinson was one of the speakers. For those who were there she was an inspirational voice at the Dublin ICNT as she was today.
However on this occasion she was upstaged by a woman from Papua New Guinea, Ursula Rukova who received a standing ovation from the 400 or so delegates after an impassioned speech in which she said that she and her community, amounting to 1700 people, were at the front line of climate change victims as they are having to move as a result of rising sea levels.
« We cannot continue to trade off our human rights, we need our rights to survive. It is our island, our culture, our life – why should we move ? Women own the land and pass it on to their daughters – we can’t hand it on if its gone. »
Rather to my amazement a woman asked a question at the end about rights to culture and why it was not talked about in the context of climate change – a question I was going to ask myself. After the session I spoke with her and gave her a copy of the Victoria Declaration. She is involved with UNESCO and has organised a press conference tomorrow afternoon to which she invited me to speak as well as a member of staff at UNESCO. As I have to leave at noon, Anika will speak on INTO’s behalf.
The rest of the afternoon was hectic at the stand with two potential new members, one an ngo in Iraq conserving the environment and natural heritage but also wishing to involve itself with the cultural heritage, and the other from the Gambia.
We also had a well known personality in the climate change activism world from Canada, Naomi Klein, author of a number of hard-hitting books. She too received a copy of the Victoria Declaration !
On the subject of well known personalities , a few have been spotted in the corridors of power not least the ex Governor of California. Maybe he can become the climate change Terminator !