Thousands March in Durban Calling for 'Climate Justice'
For a week now government negotiators working on the plan for ‘Long Term Co-operative Action’ on climate change have been scattered across a conference center in Durban, South Africa negotiating over the wide range of issues not covered by the rules of the Kyoto Protocol. This includes two questions central to the success of these talks. The first is how to fund renewable energy and forest protection measures in developing countries, and how to support people living in those countries to adapt to climate change. The second is the question of whether or not countries will agree to sign a new comprehensive legally binding treaty by 2015.
This morning all of the different viewpoints of the countries here were brought together in a single document – the draft text that will now be haggled over in the second week of these talks.
The document presented is 131 pages long, which in itself shows how complex the negotiations will be over the coming days, and how far we still have to go to reduce them to the few pages that ministers can sign up to in the final hours.
There are areas where progress has been made and agreement is close, for example on technology co-operation. There are other areas where countries have been negotiating for years and have made little progress in reducing the divergent options on the table (an example of this is the text on long-term finance—how much money goes into the Green Climate Fund and where it comes from).
Green Climate Fund
Developing countries are growing tired with the delay in delivering on the $100 billion dollars first pledged in the run up the Copenhagen. One option to bring these delays to an end would be to decide on a so-called ‘work programme’ on sources of finance with a clear deadline set for the 18th Conference of the Parties (COP18) next year. This would mean that countries who pledged the money would have to focus on its delivery—and could free up other parts of the negotiations which are currently blocked because it is not certain if that money will come. A positive move, and one which shows that new alliances are beginning to emerge between progressive developed and developing countries, South Africa put forward proposals to raise money through levies on the aviation and shipping sectors. More progress on long-term finance will be required before there is the possibility of a deal being done here in Durban.
But when will we have a deal?
One important thing was revealed upon publication of the draft text—some areas are so sensitive that whilst intense political discussions are going on behind the scenes, there aren’t yet a series of clear options on the table for negotiators to discuss. One of these issues—one central top these talks—is the question of whether or not there will be a mandate to negotiate a new treaty by 2015. In reaction to the text published, the U.S. chief negotiator Jonathan Pershing indicated that his country doesn’t even accept that it’s in a negotiation about this issue. Yet at the same time, China was indicating in a public statement that it is now open to the possibility of taking on legally binding emissions cuts—a potentially important step towards a wider agreement on a treaty.
Meanwhile, in another part of the building efforts were being made to finish talks in what are normally considered to technical, rather than highly political, issues. But today there was an outbreak of politics in the discussions on tropical forests. In a hard-won victory last year in Cancun, progressive countries achieved agreement on a series of safeguards to make sure plans to cut emissions from forest loss would also protect biodiversity and the rights of indigenous peoples. But today the original opponents to strong safeguards (including Brazil) restarted the battle, by arguing that they shouldn’t have to supply information about how they’re actually applying those safeguards in their own countries. In other words, they don’t want to be forced to reveal if they’ve broken the rules.
Brazil is at risk of losing its previous reputation as a relatively robust defender of tropical forests because right now, back in Brazil, plans are going forward to deconstruct their national laws for protecting the Amazon with the new Forest Code. The new code would make it legal for agribusiness to cut down much larger areas—risking a rapid increase in forest loss and carbon emissions.
Meanwhile, outside of the UN talks, thousands of activists marched on Dec. 3 in Durban during a 'Global Action Day' to step up the pressure on the government negotiators. Greenpeace was there, demanding governments listen to the people not the polluting corporations and take action on climate change.
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This week marks the official start of fall, but longer nights and colder days can make it harder to spend time outdoors. Luckily, there are several inspiring environmental films that can be streamed at home.
1. Kiss the Ground<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ccc5f0c92a5603e68aec39e56b0db02a"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/K3-V1j-zMZw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: Netflix</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Sept. 22</strong></p><p>Between <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wildfires-california-washington-oregon-photos-2647585008.html" target="_self">wildfires devastating the U.S. West Coast</a> and <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tropical-storm-beta-landfall-2647760268.html" target="_self">storms battering the Gulf</a>, the impacts of the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/climate-change/" target="_self">climate crisis</a> can feel overwhelming right now. <em><a href="https://kissthegroundmovie.com/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Kiss the Ground</a> </em>offers an alternative to all of the bad news by focusing on solutions.</p><p>The film, directed by Josh and Rebecca Tickell and narrated by Woody Harrelson, explains how we can heal the Earth through "regenerative agriculture," farming practices that draw carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and into soil as a way to restore soil health, which in turn boosts ecosystems and food supplies.</p><p>"<em>Kiss the Ground </em>shows how feasible it is to make these changes at a grassroots level immediately and make a truly substantive impact with low cost and easy to implement solutions," Executive Producer RJ Jain said in an email. "This is why I got involved."</p>
2. Public Trust: The Fight for America's Public Lands<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5338f7a2931e356910026e5fd76fac56"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/jsKMTAaj_wQ?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: YouTube</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Sept. 25, 2 p.m. EDT </strong></p><p>This <a href="https://www.patagonia.com/films/public-trust/" target="_blank">award-winning documentary</a> tells the stories of Indigenous activists, journalists, whistleblowers and historians working to protect America's <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/public-lands" target="_self">public lands</a>. The film focuses on three political struggles: the shrinking of <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/bears-ears" target="_self">Bears Ears</a> National Monument in Utah, the mining of Boundary Waters Wilderness in Minnesota and the opening of the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/Arctic-National-Wildlife-Refuge" target="_self">Arctic National Wildlife Refuge</a> to fossil fuel exploration.</p><p><em>Public Trust</em> was directed by David Garrett Byars and produced by Jeremy Rubingh. Patagonia Films, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and actor Robert Redford are executive producers. It will be <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGjnIG7puzY" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">released</a> on YouTube in time for <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/national-public-lands-day-2640656776.html" target="_self">National Public Lands Day</a>.</p><p>"Our country is fortunate to have millions of acres of public lands, including National Parks, Monuments, Wildlife Refuges and Wilderness set aside for future generations," Redford said. "Sadly, these lands that belong to you and me are under unprecedented threats from the greed of big corporations, eager to weaken restrictions in the pursuit of profits. Many of our current politicians are also to blame. <em>Public Trust</em> tells the story of citizens who are fighting back. It's a much-needed wake-up call for all of us who want to preserve our unique and wild cultural heritage."</p>
3. David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="156438a30836a765d7a92982545fc334"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/B_OFZvAd05Y?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: Netflix</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Oct. 4</strong></p><p>Beloved nature broadcaster <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/David-Attenborough" target="_self">David Attenborough</a> has spent his career introducing viewers to the wonders of our planet. In recent years, his footage of albatrosses swallowing <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/plastics" target="_self">plastic</a> in <em>Blue Planet II</em> has been credited with <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/2018-fighting-plastic-waste-2624606566.html" target="_self">helping to ramp up</a> the global fight against plastic pollution. Now, in this <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">World Wildlife Fund</a> (WWF)-produced <a href="https://www.attenborough.film/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">documentary</a>, he reflects on the defining moments of his career and the devastating changes he has witnessed.</p><p><em>David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet,</em> which was also produced by Silverback Films and directed by Alastair Fothergill, Jonnie Hughes and Keith Scholey, features an intimate conversation between Attenborough and Sir Michael Palin as the broadcaster reflects on his life and a career that took him to every continent on Earth. In addition to streaming on Netflix, the movie will be available in select theaters starting Sept. 28.</p><p>"For decades, David has brought the natural world to the homes of audiences worldwide, but there has never been a more significant moment for him to share his own story and reflections," WWF executive producer Colin Butfield said in a <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/david-attenborough-life-our-planet" target="_blank">statement</a>. "This film coincides with a monumental year for environmental action as world leaders make critical decisions on nature and climate. It sends a powerful message from the most inspiring and celebrated naturalist of our time."</p>
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If all the glaciers and ice caps on the planet melted, global sea level would rise by about 230 feet. That amount of water would flood nearly every coastal city around the world [source: U.S. Geological Survey]. Rising temperatures, melting arctic ice, drought, desertification and other catastrophic effects of climate change are not examples of future troubles — they are reality today. Climate change isn't just about the environment; its effects touch every part of our lives, from the stability of our governments and economies to our health and where we live.
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