Monthly Archives: December 2011

Running from Climate Change: The Obama Administration’s Changing Rhetoric

President Obama at COP15, AFP Photo


By Graciela Kincaid

At both President Obama’s “job speech” to the Joint Session of Congress and his speech at the Clinton Global Initiative last September, one issue was shockingly absent from the agenda: climate change. The term was scarcely mentioned in either speech, and more surprisingly, the administration also failed to deliver on the more popular message of clean energy. For all the talk of job creation and economic growth, the role of green jobs and a potential transition to a green economy were missing from the dialogue. In fact, lately the green jobs issue has taken a serious hit because green innovation has not been proven to create enough immediate “boots, jeans and helmets” jobs.

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Occupy COP17

By Adam Kotin and Cecilia Pineda


As negotiators determine the fate of the Kyoto Protocol on the last day of COP17, youth from all over the world, NGO members, and a few distinguished negotiators stormed the hallways of the International Convention Centre demanding climate justice.

Protesters began the march toward the opening plenary for the 7th meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) singing a mix of the South African miner’s song “Shosholoza” and chants for climate justice. Borrowing the human microphone from the U.S. Occupy Wall Street movement, they voiced their demands for the negotiators to come up with an ambitious, legally-binding treaty to reduce emissions. Continue reading

Is anyone listening to the new leaders on climate?

By Cecilia Pineda

In the months prior to the COP15 in Copenhagen, President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed convened the first meeting of the Climate Vulnerable Forum and urged leaders to make active carbon neutral pledges to arm their convictions that their survival depends on all countries pursuing low-carbon economies.

Nasheed believed that a bloc of carbon-neutral developing countries could move the outcome of Copenhagen.

To Nasheed’s disappointment, not all of the countries jumped on the carbon-neutral bandwagon and it is unlikely whether these countries could have prevented the train-wreck of Copenhagen which sacrificed 189 voices for the sake of 5. Nonetheless, out of the ashes of the COP15 we have begun to see the rise of new leaders and alliances, which rally under the progressive banner and promote low-carbon growth at home and abroad. Continue reading

Developing Countries Demand Database in Durban



When the United States, the EU, and Australia all disagree with a chorus of small developing countries in the negotiation rooms, it looks a bit like schoolyard bullying.

But that’s exactly what happened this week in Durban during informal consultations on National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), as Parties argued over the option of establishing a database to record funding and support for the NAPs process. And beneath the display of power dynamics lurked an all-important debate on what transparent climate action actually looks like. Continue reading

It Takes Two Hands to Clap

By Linlang He

Will China break the impasse in the negotiations?

Yesterday morning’s High-Level Forum on Climate Change at China Pavilion clearly lifted the spirits of its participants. Head Delegate of the China Delegation Mr. Xie Zhenhua, together with leaders from the World Bank, the UK and the EU, summarized China’s current achievements in energy efficiency and renewable energy development, reaffirmed the need for a greener growth and urged developed countries to “play from their hearts”.

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El Salvador stresses adaptation to keep its head above water

By Adam Kotin

When devastating floods hit El Salvador in October 2011, 40% of the country’s crops were wiped out. Agricultural Minister José Guillermo López Suárez was forced to import the nation’s signature kidney beans all the way from China.

But sadly, this wasn’t a new experience for the fast-developing Central American nation. At a COP17 panel presentation, El Salvadoran Minister of the Environment Herman Rosa Chávez discussed the slew of extreme weather events his country has endured over the last several years.

For El Salvador, severe climate-related losses have almost become an annual rite.

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Latin American civil society builds bridges at the COP17 in Durban

By Guy Edwards and Mónica López-Baltodano*

Today, at the COP17, a group of Latin American platforms, networks and fora organized by the Building Bridges initiative met with delegations from Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru and Panama to discuss the primary issues under negotiation including the longevity of the Kyoto Protocol, designing the Green Climate Fund and adaptation.

The Ecuadorian commented on her satisfaction at seeing so many young people participating in this important event, and that with Rio+20 around the corner, the outcomes from Durban will have an impact on the event to be held in Brazil, 20 years after the Earth Summit that gave rise to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

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