Opening statements at COP17 just ‘regurgitated’ old positions say NGOs

By Tierney Smith
RTCC in Durban

Tove Ryding from Greenpeace says Kyoto is the countries rule book (Source: climate_greens/flickr)

The opening statements from COP17 parties are just ‘regurgitated’ old positions. That was the message of the NGOs this morning in response to the first day of the conference.

While yesterday saw the parties give their opening remarks, this morning it was the turn of the NGOs to respond to the events that unfolded at the beginning of the conference and to offer their expectations for the next two weeks.

Mohammad Adow from Christian Aid said: “In the opening statements we have heard yesterday and today, parties have only repeated what they have said in the past. A lot of them have regurgitated their old position. And one thing we have learned from the statements is that the pressing issues in these conversations are the most politicised.

“We don’t want Africa to be the death place of the Kyoto protocol, but we want Durban to be the birth place of a second commitment period.”

In a similar pattern to the build-up for the conference the speakers, including Adow, Rashmi Mistry from Oxfam South Africa and Tove Ryding from Greenpeace, called on delegates to offer continued support for the Kyoto Protocol, begin the process towards a second legally binding commitment and implement a Green Climate Fund, which actually contains finance.

They also reacted to the news yesterday that Canada could potentially remove itself from Kyoto altogether next month. Ryding called on them to either begin global co-operation or – if they continued to stand in the way of progress – to leave the room.

Talking about Kyoto she said: “It is the global rule book. It’s what we have that describes how we reduce emissions. It is the outcome of 17 years of negotiations. Right now we have the people of the world expecting their governments to engage in the fight against climate change. You do not do that by taking the global rule book and throwing it in the trash.”

The groups also called on the EU not to shy away from its responsibility, as has been seen in recent years following the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009, and for America to stop standing in the way of a Green Climate Fund.

But despite the criticism following the first day of the talks, when questioned over whether they thought the conference would be a success they appeared to remain cautiously optimistic.

Chairing the meeting, David Turnbull from the Climate Action Network International said: “I would just say we have quite a large number of advocates here in Durban and if we expected Durban to fail I don’t think we would be here so we’re certainly going to be pushing as hard as we can push to make sure that Durban is a success on the pathway to a comprehensive global agreement on climate change and our expectation is that Durban can succeed if the parties are going to let it.”

Climate Action Network will be holding a daily briefing throughout the conference at the Kosi Palm meeting room in the ICC

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