Direct from Copenhagen, Denmark - 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference - (8 – 18 December '09)

Acting as the official High Tide COP15 envoy, distinguished ecological artist Aviva Rahmani will be immersing herself in the burgeoning eco-political activism in the city and sharing her experiences with us via this daily blog.

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Produced in association with FACT

Friday, 11 December 2009

Wengari Maathi

I stayed long enuf at the Congo event to hear Wengari say: "supporting this region supports the entire continent of Africa."

Tried but couldn't get a good photo shot. She was entirely surrounded by entourage & fans. She looks a lot more tired than when I met her a few years ago. But maybe I do too.



30% of earth is forests
20% of carbon emissions come from cutting down forests
15% of all carbon sinks for human activity are in forests
95% of emissions from developed & emerging nations
Investment now very small (miniscule and whomever is smart enuf to invest will benefit greatly if anyone wants a hot tip) compared to costs to entire biosphere later

Broad consensus emerging
Germany providing significant funding to help Congo, hoping to set an example, facilitation for 2 years (Minister of Germany)
Local implementation part of plan
Ask finance ministers of other countries to help
Grandchildren say our grandparents were at COP and saved forests
Cameroons timber is 25% of export

(I'm in an impossibly uncomfortable position on the floor listening & typing in this packed room, sweating because it's so hot with all these people- Special Effects of Africa at COP)

German pilot project in Cameroon with partners in Bolivia mapping land use changes, measurements of damage factors & biomass emission acountings
Doing GIS workshops in Republic of Congo, Gabon financed by European Space Agency
Practical evaluation of carbon stock to develop capacity
DRC initiatives preparing for REDD
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA): mapping baseline definitions for Congo Basin. Goals: show methodology for reference res to help implementation. Is REDD appropriate? Macroenonomic economic analysis; focusing on impact of internal infrastructure (traffic corridors) drivers & international trade effect, meat consumption, agricultural development/production as it becomes an exporter at the cost of forests resulting in deforestation projected to 2030. Looking at impact 0n food prices (rising). Equipped now to evaluate value of REDD.

Speakers switching between English, French, German. Drums outside (start up for Fossil awards?)

Preparation for monitoring & reporting in Congo & Gabon. $200,000 committed
Surface area 342,000 km 2,900.000 population
22471271 (not sure how to translate these numbers) hectares total forest area
(just asked person in front of me to move packback so I could extend feet- much better but back still quite unhappy)
1/4 of basin based on maps on screen looks like protected & certified forest areas

institutional arrangements & stakeholder analysis
deforestation & degradation mapping

Synergies with donors & stakeholders to avoid duplicating efforts

Unique with a consistent plan
Robust science
Regionally integrated

(I just got a chair when the woman next to me left: heaven. What a wonderful invention chairs are)

Conclusions: we need to identify what was accomplished and how to make the achievements durable. We need financial help from other countries.

Questions later. Too bad. Room had to be vacated at 6:PM and I have another commitment.

CONGO BASIN reforestation application of REDD protocol

The Best Light is in the Bathroom

Serious Camera

Day 5 COP15 daily life at the COP

I tried to get a good shot at lunch, of how long the line was and how varied the people but the lighting was difficult. Suffice it to say, there was a tall African Arab man in a blue flowing dashiki and turban sitting not far from another African in silver robes. Behind them were four short Peruvians in traditional costume. Every imaginable language is being spoken. There are 192 nation states represented and all the NGOs in the world here. The lunch line, starting at 1:45, took till 2:30 to get thru and then I had to find a table. When I final found and cleared a little spot, the table got bumped three times by people rushing past to meetings: once by an Arab man who apologized, once by another who didn't and finally by two British girls who also apologized. by then, half my tea had spilled over half the table. Still, it was my first quiet, peaceful moment so far today.

Right now, I'm sitting in the press section of the Plenary, about to go hear the end of the Amazon side event. I sneaked in a bit ago because there's no session in progress. The advantage is plugs for our computers so we dont use up battery. The COP is still suspended over a binding agreement.

This morning I rushed out the house so early, I had barely navigated in time past someone's half digested meal in the street, presumably from a hard night's drinking, to get into the COP in time for the press conference. the walk to the above ground, sleek metro is a 45 min walk each way and I'm rolling my suitcase with my laptop and essentials the whole way. It's really noisy on cobblestones and gravel but I walked so fast, I've cut the time to twenty minutes. Despite my hurry, I stopped, when I saw a huge flock of birds pass over. It was still too dark to get a good picture but they were magnificent.

On the way towards the bathroom, I saw an express package had arrived- my new blackberry and an eyebrow pencil sharpener- the essentials of life here. But disks I'm waiting for an comfortable shoes still haven't arrived, so a frantic note went out to Daisy Morton, my unflappable assistant, to track them.

I didn't have time before I left to grab breakfast, but rushed past Mai & Oleg as I said "gud morn," for a quick shower before heading out. I now have my own room, in the basement, because the twin teenage boys have gone to spend time with their neighbor. It's relatively unfinished, so I feel somewhat monastic. Perhaps appropriate for my mission and the first event of the day.

Two stops to the Bella Center, out the train with all the other COP people coming from the same direction, I take the elevator to the street level and join the crowds entering past the demonstrators of the hour and the police who check our credentials before we enter and then again before we enter the main room. Then we go thru airport style security. The police are very friendly, helpful & nice, even if they do have a mandate to arrest troublemakers and hold us for 45 days. Inside, after checking coats, everyone is rushing around and there are so many pieces of luggage on wheels, as mine, that they often get entangled. No matter what stress we're all under, however, people are generally punctiliously courteous, friendly and patient. Luggage gets untangled and we move along.

After the press conference, went looking for Don Lehr, the press person for the Ethics committee, who secured them an interview with Tiome magazine last night. Stopped along the way at various booths, hearing about unfunded critical conservation programs in Nigeria and Ethiopian efforts to slow down forest burning for charcoal (encouraging people to plant their own sustainable groves rather than burning down important habitat).

In the afternoon, I ran into Marda Kirn, and we compared notes. She gave me advice for my press conference next week: "be gentle. We all sound so angry & self-righteous. No one wants to listen." She has been here less than 24 hrs and already gotten press credentials and met with one of the presidents of something. What an operator to learn from!! So far I've collected about 50 business cards. I've and collected more information than I can sort. So I'm not complaining about my own ability to negotiate. One of these blogs will be a random list of critical information.

This evening, dinner maybe with the Ethics people and then home and the trudge back along the deserted streets, hoping it doesn't rain again. At least I have an umbrella with me today.

It's 4:15 and I missed the Amazon. Guess I'm more tired than I realized. 15 min and I can make it to the Niels Bohr room to hear from the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research about new assessments, multi-gas emissions and geo-engineering (a horror in progress). Wonder what the room mood will be.

Day 5 COP15 Visuals

Day 5 COP15 Typing from Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change Press Conference

Besides facts, figures, references to the COP15 text, entire tenor geared to help the press tell the story.

First question: ethics of media re: leaking of documents causing disruptions
Answer: from Nancy Tuana: focus on big picture and explain larger perception, data subject to investigation. Put more attention to educating people about science to contextualize info

Question; to Don Brown: justify 17% target of USA; refusal to pay reparations re: adaptations; moral; legal liability re: damages
Answer: disconnect between science and agreements. Ask nations explain their position
John Rosales: ethics issues (such as these) compelled (ethics group) to write white papers about these situations

Question (mine): how advise media to negotiate corporate control of media conflict of interest?
Answer: Reporters can examine duties; responsibilities of nations to ask logical follow up questions, are they denying responsibilities to others? Ask questions to not let people get away without ethics. No ethical system justifies narrow economic interests. We want to know if there is denial in regards to effect on others?

Question: do only nation states have obligations? ie. representative from Youth Forum offered to pay $.25 a day to off set reparations and take individual responsibility?
Answer: We need a discourse on obligations of individuals, duties to reduce fair share of emissions and contribute to reparations. COPs don't take pressure off individuals. Members of Ethics group and others can expand self of self with students in teaching, religious communities