Civil Society throws lifeline to climate negotiators at COP 16 in Cancun

12/10/10 Kelly Benjamin
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Today is the last day of negotiations at the United Nations Climate Change Summit in Cancun, Mexico. WMNF’s Kelly Benjamin reports that Civil Society activist organizations are hoping to throw a lifeline to negotiators so they can pass a deal…

At the beach in Cancun this morning, members of Greenpeace and TCKTCKTCK, an alliance of environmental organizations working toward an ambitious and binding climate change agreement, used a giant inflatable life preserver to throw a lifeline to delegates who are “drowning” (metaphorically) at the UN climate talks not far away. Kelly Rigg is the Executive Director for the Global Campaign for Climate Action.

"The negotiations are entering their final day today and it's really the crunch time for negotiators to get down to business and take the steps needed to protect the climate. It's a worrying state right now, there's a lot of different texts going around putting a lot of pressure on Japan, for example, which has said that it won't sign up to a second commitment period of the Kyoto protocol, which is a very bad signal, inflexible signal. The purpose of this action today is to throw a lifeline to negotiation, to say that the public is demanding that you take the necessary action to fix this problem."

The spectacle consisted of a group of people dressed as negotiators in business suits, splashing around helplessly in the water as a group of environmental activists throw a massive life ring into the surf.

"When you're pretending to be drowning, just pretend to be drowning like really in a theatrical way, not like this. Because this is the signal we agreed with lifeguards and people on the beach that we really need help."

John Quigley is an artist known for creating environmentally conscious participatory works.

"It's fun, it's colorful, but it's got a serious message which is we need action. And the people, the NGO's are the hope, and they're taking the lead right now and they're sending a lifeline to the negotiators. We need a breakthrough, so today we're asking the question, is there hope? Hope with a question mark. In Copenhagen they talked about 'Hopenhagen.' Obama talked about hope in 2008, where is Obama? Where is the leadership from the US? Today is about, they're not going to leave, people are going to have to kick them in the you know what to get them to do something because people are hurting and it's only going to get worse."

Yorkie Durkins is on vacation from England this week. He just happened to stumble upon the giant life preserver and decided to jump in and help.

"On vacation, just walking along and then was asked to join in by the man, so I give my time. Excellent, but we need the Americans to join in, without the Americans we're going nowhere."

Meanwhile, inside the UN Climate Summit, negotiations are expected to continue late into the night on legal language that will that will help create a fund for developing nations, those that have been hit the hardest already by climate change, to adapt to increasing global temperatures and rising seas. The main dispute inside the conference is whether to continue the Kyoto Protocol for emissions reductions or to combine in with different tracks for a binding agreement.

Previous WMNF coverage of COP 16

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Bet it aint hemp...

Anyone care to bet on whether or not that “life ring” is made of natural fibers…

Nice job

Nicely done story Kelly. I'm glad you had a chance to cover this.