Download Link: COP17 review_web

With ocean acidification now occurring faster than at any point in the past 300 million years, COP17 (and every other COP) has failed the ultimate metric of reducing global emissions. And we are all to blame. Governments have been completely unable to agree on global solution to a human-caused problem that, if unchecked, will send us all into a mass extinction event. Business continues to adopt high-carbon growth paths. As for global civil society? It can hardly been said that we have build the kinds of powerful movements for change that can bend the wills and desires of rulers and captains of industry to put the environment before narrow national or commercial interests.

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Earthlife Africa Johannesburg commissioned this report not only to reflect on civil society’s impact on COP17 and the lessons learnt, but also to spark an internal reassessment of global civil society’s actions towards the UNFCC; for whatever we are doing, it is not working. As one of the key organisations involved in organising and logistics of broader South African civil input at COP17—in particular, the Global Day of Action, The People’s Space, and the Climate Refugee Camp—we are not a neutral party. For this reason, we used three external researchers, working independently of each other, for this report. The aim being to keep our involvement to a minimum in the research.

If there is a single message about the engagement with the UNFCCC that comes out of this report, it is that civil society should stop looking at the COP process as a “quick fix” for climate change. Instead, civil society needs return to the hard, expensive and time-consuming work of grassroots mobilisation to create real and substantial mass movements that have the sheer weight of numbers to force change. National governments need to go to a COP knowing that their populaces want a global deal on climate change and will not take kindly to them returning from a COP with only empty promises and a hollow text.

This proposition needs to be examined and debated not only in South Africa but across the globe. The objective facts on the ground speak volumes: The world is warming, emissions are rising, and the negative effects are already beginning to show themselves. Our efforts to date have not produced a credible solution to this problem, and, unless there is such a solution, we will transform this beautiful and unique planet into a wasteland of misery and despair.