Rally - Bishop Tutu

27 November 2011 --- Today I got my badge easily, so I have access to all the meetings except those are open only to country negotiators.

Then I spent the rest of the day at the stadium where there was a free concert and rally sponsored by a coalition of all the Faith groups, featuring Bishop Desmond Tutu. Bishop Tutu is 80 years old now, but still very dynamic and charismatic. He compared the general expectation of failure at COP-17 to Apartheid, how the general opinion was that it would never be overthrown. Since South Africa ended Apartheid, he said the same kind of miracle could be applied here in South Africa to COP-17.

Excerpts from Bishop Tutu's talk at the Inter-faith Rally on Sunday: "We want to welcome our friends from other parts of Africa. Thank you for all you did for us in the days we were struggling against Apartheid. Thank you for receiving our refugees, our children. You helped us to become free. And you in others parts of the world, you supported us when we were struggling against a viscious system. We defeated it. Now we are facing another huge, huge enemy. And we know that any one particular country cannot fight this enemy on its own. We are getting ready for the battle to fight against global warming, climate change. I learned that there are seven countries that are saying, 'AI Sugka!(translated by my friend, Sheena Cairns as "")Who are we to agree that by a certain date we reduce our emissions?' I want to tell them, 'we have only one home! This is the only home we have. Whether they are rich or poor, this is the only home. And if we destroy this home, it is not just the poor people who are going to be destroyed. Even the rich --- there's no where else you can go. There's only one home. We may go first, but we'll be waiting for you on the other side.'"

ArkCyclists' PetitionNkoana-Mashabane

The photos (from left) are the ark that brought the petition started by the South African faith groups, but signed by people from all over the world, the petition delivered by the cyclists, and the new COP-17 President H. E. Ms. Maitte Nkoana-Mashabane.

The Executive Director Christine Figueres and President of COP-17, H.E. Ms.Maitte Nkoana-Mashabane, both appeared at the rally. They were given three petitions signed by many people from all over the world. One with more than 200,000 signatures from around, started by the South African faith groups was delivered in an ark to the voices of a gospel song about Noah. A group of cyclists have been riding, collecting signatures along the way, and finally rode through Africa. All these petitions implore the leaders to facilitate a fair, ambitious and legally binding global agreement here in Durban. I was concerned when the Executive Director cautioned the rally audience not to give up, that this is a marathon, not a sprint. There are rumors that some of the developed countries are wanting to delay the legally binding aspect of the renewed Kyoto Protocol until 2020.

It made me even more conscious how important is the U.S.'s stubborn resistance. There is a planned Occupy movement here, but it occurred to me in the midst of the rally, that the U.S. Occupy movements could demand that the U.S. do the right thing on Climate Change and sign a renewed Kyoto agreement. The catch-phrase here today was "FAB". We want a "Fair, Ambitious, and Binding" agreement to come out of this. Also, everywhere you hear, "it's now or never." For the U.S. it is like a unilateral disarmament decision, but folks I have talked to think that if the U.S. signed, China, India, and the rest would go along. Obama could sign and then leave the Senate ratification for later. Bill Clinton signed the Kyoto Protocol when it was first developed and then the Senate passed a "sense of the Senate" resolution saying they wouldn't ratify unless China and India were in. I'm going to send emails to U.S. media asking them to cover COP-17, and to the White House. Back to COP-17