The verdict …

November 19th, 2006

Angelique OrrThe view from Nairobi
Practical Action campaigner Angelique Orr reports from the UN Climate Change negotiations in Kenya

The conference came to a close on Friday. So, the verdict …?

In terms of the big picture, I’m afraid it’s a depressing one. The international community failed to reach agreement on another round of legally binding cuts in emissions when Kyoto runs out in 2012. It did not manage to set a timetable for the negotiation of cuts, which potentially means that there will be a gap between commitment periods.

I’ve been so close to the negotiations that I know it’s not for want of trying. Many people, NGOs and some governments have done all can they within their powers to try a close a deal. In my opinion, our own David Miliband did a good job pushing for a positive outcome – I leave Nairobi realising that the UK government is a voice for action within the international community. There have been some positive outcomes here. In particular more resources have been agreed for clean development and to help people adapt to the impacts of climate change in Africa – that’s got to be good news.

But frankly, I come away with one overriding sentiment. Where did the urgency go? Hundreds of thousands on the streets around the world; a solid economic case for action; robust science; evidence from the very country where the negotiations took place that climate change is impacting now, first and worst on the world’s poorest people. What more does it take to bring about change? As my colleague Sharon put it in Friday’s press conference – “all it would have taken was for a bunch of men and women in expensive suits to make the right choices”.

In spite of my frustrations, it has been an incredible fortnight. Personally I have learnt an enormous amount and met inspirational people with whom I hope to continue to work. And for Practical Action? An international team from 8 countries each influencing their own governments; a fringe event with a packed lecture theatre and stimulating debate; the direct handover to David Miliband of thousands of messages from our supporters; spearheading an unprecedented march of thousands through Nairobi, including many Maasai pastoralists calling for action; watching my colleague Sharon single-handedly take on the UN Conference and the world’s media to express her dismay at the lacklustre performance by politicians …

Our team has made a real difference here. Without them, the voice of the world’s poor would not have been so strongly heard. It’s been an incredible inspiration, honour and privilege to be a part of that.

So, back to the UK tonight. I am knackered and need a couple of days to take it easy. Then again, we clearly have a lot more work to do …

So what’s next?….

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