'Occupy' movement comes to Durban climate talks

27th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Inspired by the Occupy Wall St. movement, protesters calling for "climate justice" are set to gather on Monday at the opening of UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa, organisers say.

"A meeting at the 'Speaker's Corner' will be called, an assembly," Patrick Bond, a professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, told AFP, referring to a spot near the venue of the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

"Negotiations have begun with the city on an authorised protest space," said Bond, who is associated with the largely youth-driven initiative.

A website dedicated to "Occupy COP17" echoed the frustration of many poorer nations already facing climate impacts with the slow pace and low ambition of the talks.

"Inside their assembly and inside their declarations the needs of the 99 percent are not being heard," reads a declaration on a the site.

"Private corporations are occupying our seats in the UN climate talks and governments corrupted by corporate influence are claiming to represent our needs."

On Friday, South Africa's police minister said his country would deploy 2,500 officers to the UN climate talks starting this week.

"Police will not tolerate criminal acts that are disguised as demonstrations, which in some cases include destruction of property and intimidations," said Nathi Mthethwa.

The government has given the nod to a civil society march next Saturday, but the minister made no mention of the Occupy event.

The possibility of an "Occupy COP17" protest was raised earlier this month by former Costa Rican president Jose Maria Figueres at the Climate Vulnerable Forum in Bangladesh.

"With respect to climate maybe we need an Occupy Durban," he told OneWorld TV.

Such a action could take the form of "a sit-in by the delegations of those countries that are most affected by climate change," he said.

Some climate-vulnerable states have slammed recent proposals from wealthy nations that a legally-binding climate pact can wait until the end of this decade.

Such proposals are "both environmentally reckless and politically irresponsible," Joseph Gilbert, Grenada's environment minister, said several weeks ago on behalf of the 42-nation Association of Small Island States (AOSIS).

The website can be found at www.occupycop17.com. There is also a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/occupyCOP17) and a Twitter feed (#occupycop17).

© 2011 AFP

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