SCCS blog from Cancun climate change negotiations - week 1

Week 1 from the UN climate change talks in Cancun

Caluna Campbell and Lang Banks representing SCCS at the UN conference in Cancun

Day 7 - by Lang Banks from WWF Scotland - Sunday 5th December 2010

At the end of week one, these talks are still as disorientating as my return to my hotel last night after the non-governmental organisation (NGO) social event to "celebrate" those who have survived to the half way point.

However, the slight glint in the eyes of colleagues pouring over the text of a draft proposal on the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol released on Sunday morning, suggested things hadn't completely broken down here. "A good place to start the negotiations from at least" seems to be the consensus.

Basically, the text in front of the parties contains text covering most countries positions - thus helping to keep nations from throwing a wobbly and walking out, as had been threatened by some nations earlier in the week.

The continuation of Kyoto draft text came a day after an earlier draft text on Long-Term Cooperative Action. So, right now, negotiators are facing a lot of challenges with the two draft proposals, but thankfully both contain options that could result in a positive outcome in Cancun.

The proposal on the Kyoto Protocol contains two main approaches: leaving the Kyoto Protocol as is, or making it stronger. Negotiators need to make it stronger.

Keen to avoid a repeat of the car crash that was Copenhagen, the Mexican presidency has done a good job so far in keeping the process transparent and the parties talking.

One issue preying on the minds of most NGO observers is whether nations desperate to reach agreement will aim low. The "any deal is better than no deal" scenario worries anyone looking for an outcome that ensures emission cuts agreed relate in any meaningful way to those demanded by the science.

Most ministers began arriving in Cancun this weekend ahead of the final week of negotiations. They will be greeted by many delegates sporting Stop Climate Chaos Scotland lanyards and pin badges reading "Follow Scotland's 42%" - in reference to Scotland's world leading climate law - which have been happily snapped up by people keen to hear of the leadership being shown on climate change by Scotland.

Here's hoping Scotland's example, along with the many other inspiring ideas being shown off by nations and NGOs in the main exhibition centre, help engender an atmosphere conducive to securing good progress in the week to come.

Read today's edition of the ECO daily Cancun newsletter: ECO 05/12/10.

Day 5 - by Caluna Campbell from Oxfam Scotland - Friday 3rd December 2010

I was trying to think of what I’ve learned since I’ve been out here in Cancun for the climate talks, but I feel like my whole perspective has changed so much, it’s difficult to put my finger on one thing. Maybe it will take for me to get home and digest what’s happened, to take some time to reflect.

But I’ve realised there’s a real connection between Scotland and the other people I’ve met. Climate change is having an effect around the globe. Too much water, or not enough- it doesn’t really matter. What is clear is that climate change has a real impact on ordinary people’s lives. There’s a real feeling of solidarity- a real connection. We all want to know more about each other.

But while I can see that Scotland is facing similar threats, it’s clear that we’re also better equipped to adapt to it. For poor people, the impact of climate change can be devastating. But it’s not just a lack of money that makes it difficult.

We’ve been working to help the community in South Uist to adapt to the coastal erosion that goes along with more extreme storms and rising sea levels. It’s been a lot of hard work, but coming here and speaking to people has shown me how poverty makes it harder.

What makes it easier for us? Well, I’m the first person to complain about both, but having access to politicians and media has been helpful for a start. A lack of access to these sources of power makes adaptation harder. Politics, inequality, hierarchy: all can be a barrier as much as money. Being poor makes life tough at the best of times- adapting to climate change makes it even tougher.

Read today's edition of the ECO daily Cancun newsletter: ECO 03/12/10.

Day 1 - by Caluna Campbell from Oxfam Scotland - Monday 29th November 2010

What a month! At the start of November I was at home in South Uist, helping lay the fishing nets that will act as a coastal defence against climate change. Now, here I am in Mexico, meeting people from communities around the globe that have been affected by climate change. I’ve met people from Mexico City, Bolivia, Northern Mexico and New York so far.

We’ve all had a chance to talk about our experiences within our own communities. In northern Mexico, the indigenous people had to adapt to longer rainy periods, which have caused the river to rise and created landslides on the mountainside where the poorer locals lived.

In Bolivia, they had to adapt to longer dry seasons, which have caused drought and a loss of 50,000 heads of cattle: their main source of income. In Bolivia, water is a precious commodity. Even when the rainy season came, the poorer people struggled to get their fair share and many had to seek water from dirty streams and puddles.

People were interested to hear that although we are a developed country we too suffer the same crisis, that climate change is having an effect on our communities too. Although Scotland may be more advanced technologically and economically, globally climate change is affecting us all.

While we were talking, we realised that whether it’s Bolivia or South Uist, it’s indigenous people who have the knowledge - we know how to adapt. It’s vital that adaptation takes that local knowledge into account. We’re discussing creating a model that can be used wherever adaptation is required - so that the local people who know the land best can have their say.

We hope that this local knowledge can be packed up with the funding it needs. Let’s hope that the UN talks in Cancun will deliver the Climate Fund that poor communities so desperately need to put their ideas into action.

Read today's edition of the ECO daily Cancun newsletter: ECO 29/11/10.


Get SCCS updates