Kicking off COP-17 in Durban, South Africa
It’s that time of year again -- the time for delegates from all over the world to talk climate change and what we can do about it as a global citizenry. COP-17, the 17th annual meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC)’s Conference of Parties (COP), kicked off yesterday in Durban, South Africa’s third largest city. From November 28 to December 9, 194 parties convene to discuss global solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and adopt resolutions to strategically address climate change.
Over two decades after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was organized in 1988, COP-17 convenes this year to build upon the meetings from previous years, from the first meeting in Berlin in 1993 to last year’s COP-16 in Cancun. At the end of each conference, the parties come up with a set of decisions and resolutions which are archived here.
On the agenda this year is to continue talking about how to implement the much-belabored Kyoto Protocol, which sets binding emissions reduction targets among other goals for industrialized countries. Formally adopted 14 years ago, the Kyoto Protocol remains a touchy topic among developed countries including the US which remains the only signatory that refuses to ratify the treaty.
For those of us who couldn’t make it to the bustling sea port of Durban this year, we can get a taste of the proceedings virtually. The schedule is packed with speeches, workshops, and tours, ranging from a discussion on how social sciences are affected by a changing climate to a veganism gala with prominent (& vegan) political figures from around the globe. And, thanks to students and other individuals that are recording their impressions of the conference online, there are some outlets to look to for in depth coverage, anecdotes, and photos of the proceedings. Students from Dickinson College are reporting on their experiences thus far in their blog, Dickinson to Durban, as are the youth delegates through SustainUS, a highly selective global youth ambassadors program, which has a blog and series entitled “Postcards from Durban”.
While every higher education institution may not be able to have a program as comprehensive as Dickinson’s NASA-supported Global Climate Change Africa Mosaic program, which has sent students to conduct on-site research during COP-17, testament to the growing presence of higher education in the international climate change arena is the representation of over 115 colleges and universities from around the world at COP-17.
Of course, as with any convening on sustainability, whether attracting 20,000 people in a week-long convention or 20 in an hour-long debate on your campus -- how spoken and written words are translated into action is what ultimately demonstrates if and how these varied efforts are moving us closer towards a cooler climate and healthier humanity.
Stay tuned for more COP-17 coverage from AASHE! And, if you're in Durban or know of people from your university or college that are, please do let us know by commenting here or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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