Back to reality


November 14th, 2006

After the euphoria of the march at the weekend, coming back into the main conference I have come back down to earth with a massive bump. The simple fact is that the politicians and negotiators are simply not moving fast enough. It seems to me that they are acting as though they have all the time in the world – but they don’t.

At these negotiations last year, world leaders agreed that they would work together to build an improved international agreement for when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. This was great news at the time but it’s essential that this conference in Nairobi reaches a consensus on reviewing Kyoto quickly and effectively, so that lessons learned can be fed into shaping an agreement for post-2012. The timetable’s tight and if the new agreement is to come into force as soon as Kyoto expires, effective talks about its detail must start now. Otherwise we risk the situation where there is a gap between Kyoto and its successor – so carbon emissions could sky-rocket out of control.

It’s so frustrating. After the passion and positivity of Saturday’s march where poor farmers called for action, the sluggish progress that’s being made here in Nairobi feels absolutely out of kilter. Practical Action’s team and other organisations are working hard to push governments towards more urgent action. My colleague Rachel will be meeting the UK’s Environment Minister David Milliband later today and I know she’ll be reminding him that he has to pull his finger out and take a meaningful lead in the international community (though perhaps she’ll phrase it slightly differently!!).

On the plus side, I was able to attend a brilliant debate yesterday about the US position on climate change. I’ve always felt a bit despondent about the Bush Administration’s position – not least the fact that it failed to ratify Kyoto. But yesterday I heard so much positivity about the future of US policy – 388 mayors have agreed to limit carbon emissions at local level and there’s also lots of movement by State governments. The Democrat majority in Congress following last week’s election is also viewed as a real opportunity for change….

Anyway, that’s it for this posting – I need to get on with the job in hand.

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