By Amy Goodman with Denis Moynihan
“You’ve been negotiating all my life,” Anjali Appadurai told the plenary session of the U.N.‘s 17th “Conference of Parties,” or COP 17, the official title of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa. Appadurai, a student at the ecologically focused College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, addressed the plenary as part of the youth delegation. She continued: “In that time, you’ve failed to meet pledges, you’ve missed targets, and you’ve broken promises. But you’ve heard this all before.”
After she finished her address, she moved to the side of the podium, off microphone, and in a manner familiar to anyone who has attended an Occupy protest, shouted into the vast hall of staid diplomats, “Mic check!” A crowd of young people stood up, and the call-and-response began:
Appadurai: “Equity now!”
Crowd: “Equity now!”
Appadurai: “You’ve run out of excuses!”
Crowd: “You’ve run out of excuses!”
Appadurai: “We’re running out of time!”
Crowd: “We’re running out of time!”
Appadurai: “Get it done!”
Crowd: “Get it done!”
That was Friday, at the official closing plenary session of COP 17. The negotiations were extended, virtually nonstop, through Sunday, in hopes of avoiding complete failure. At issue were arguments over words and phrases—for instance, the replacement of “legal agreement” with “an agreed outcome with legal force,” which is said to have won over India to the Durban Platform.
The countries in attendance agreed to a schedule that would lead to an agreement by 2015, which would commit all countries to reduce emissions starting no sooner than 2020, eight years into the future.