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COP17: Politicians, Get Your Head Out Of The Sands And Lead!


Our eyes on the ground of the Durban climate conference, Ani, updates us from Day 6 of COP17. To read more, visit Ani’s blog at

I could spend my time writing this blog about a draft text for the Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention, which has been circulated this morning and has as many numbers and words in brackets as delegates in the plenary session. I can’t point to much progress here in the talks at this point. The climate talks are bogged down by the same old disputes between developing and developed countries. The Green Climate Fund remains uncertain, discussions of long-term finance have begun but bunker fuels are out of the text. The European Union shows low effort of leadership on the Kyoto Protocol, which remains in a drawer until Ministers arrive next week.

While some delegates negotiate another lose political agreement without teeth, others here are fighting for their lives. Obviously the more important things are happening outside of the conference center. On today’s Global Action Day protesters slammed government negotiators for their lack of progress to agree to an effective deal on climate change.

An African Delegate referred to Canada’s position as “disheartening.” “We’re very frustrated, we’re sad and we’re bitter and it’s a very unfortunate situation.” They took particular umbrage at Peter Kent’s suggestion that poorer countries are looking for “guilt payments.” He pointed out the fact that human-induced climate change was created by industrialized countries and made it possible for them having the quality of life they have today and this is the whole concept of historical responsibility.” “They should take leadership.”

“We sit and cry that God is upset with the people, then we found out it was climate change.” This is how a Ugandan mother of seven children described her communities’ reaction to the series of flooding followed by droughts that destroyed the agricultural infrastructure that her community lived and prospered on. Since 2007, the weather conditions in Uganda have significantly altered the dynamics on which the society functions causing extreme poverty and famine, in the region.

As I sat there listening to her and many other stories, I felt upset, mad and outraged. I remembered Peter Kent’s words of “playing hardball with developing countries.” – I cried. Why is it allowed that people can play God and alter the climate and then get to run away and hide behind money once they are called to correct their mistakes?

While some government’s want to take time out for the next 10 years, the planet and people can’t. It is time to stop exploiting every natural resource nature has blessed us with. Let’s start listing to then voices of communities: “We don’t need fertilizers, we need climate justice and we can feed all the countries currently suffering from famine like we used to do.”

Politicians – get your heads out of the sand! Start taking leadership! You have our future in your hands.

More links:

For more updates from Durban, check out United Church of Canada Moderator Mardi Tindal’s blog here.

CBC: Canada Slammed At Durban Climate Talks

Youth Delegate Manitoba

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