Monday, November 28, 2011


Today marked the beginning of the UNFCCC COP17/CMP7, which stands for the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (CMP7) to the Kyoto Protocol. The convention is being held in a convention center and exhibition hall in downtown Durban, South Africa.

Bikes available free-of-charge for delegates
After riding the conference shuttle to downtown Durban this morning, I headed to the meeting of the Youth Non-Governmental Organizations (YOUNGO). YOUNGO's governing body is a "spokescouncil" that meets at these morning meetings. A spokescouncil meeting consists of the attending youth organizations each of which is represented by a single spokesperson or "spoke." The spokes sit in a circle and the rest of the organization sits directly behind this front person. The spokes are the representatives of each group or organization who suggest ideas, ask questions, and vote throughout the meeting. During the meeting, the various youth groups discussed briefings to the negotiators as well as various actions and programs throughout the day. At this particular meeting, about 15 organizations with a total of close to 100 youth were present.

YOUNGO Spokescouncil meeting

"Spokes" discussing a vote with their groups
After the meeting, the youth involvement continued. At a side event discussing the politics of the parties negotiating at Durban was well attended by the youth constituency. Later on, the Canadian youth climate delegation held a press conference to present their new jackets (in the style of NASCAR) sporting the logos of oil and gas companies to the Canadian negotiators. None of the invited negotiators were in attendance. Although this press conference was mostly a joke, the youth highlighted an important issue slowing the climate negotiations: nations like Canada are working to do what is best for the oil industry and other powerful and rich corporations rather than working to protect the people and environment.

The press conference held by the Canadian youth delegation was poking fun at the Canadian negotiators, but was treated as a legitimate press conference at the UNFCCC

The "big oil" jackets
As a result of Canada's work against the climate negotiations, this country was awarded both first and second place in the Fossil of the Day award, a prize given to the countries that have had the greatest negative impact on the progress of the climate talks. Although Canada received the award, other countries such as the United States and Japan also made statements that they will not agree to a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol (which expires in 2012). Unless these countries can realize that they should be focusing on what is best for the people they represent rather than the large, profitable industries, the climate negotiations in Durban will not develop agreements necessary to effectively continue international discussions on climate change.


  1. It's great that your generation is engaged and aware. Unfortunately, as policymakers keep kicking climate change agreements down the chronological road, it may be up to your generation to seriously address the issue. Nice post.

  2. Great photos! I especially like the "big oil" -- and your discussion of the "press conference" by Canada youth. And I'm intrigued by the "spokes" -- are you on your own with the Inconvenient Youth? or aligned with another group?

    I'm guessing you're staying too far away to take advantage of the free bikes for daily transport!