|Examining Durban: How Will the Last Climate-Change Talks Impact Jews, Israel and the World?|
COP President Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (in red checkered blouse) leads a huddle at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP 17/MOP 7) in Durban.
(Photo courtesy IISD)
On Feb. 29, 2012 the Green Zionist Alliance and COEJL: The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life hosted a free webinar about the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP 17/MOP 7) in Durban, South Africa, and what actions we can take going forward, answering the questions: What happened at the climate negotiations? How will Durban affect Israel? And how can we be involved as a Jewish community?
Co-sponsored by the American Zionist Movement, Hazon, Jewcology, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Religious Action Center and Siach.
Read more and listen to the audio version of the webinar below:
Sybil Sanchez, moderator
Sybil Sanchez is the director of COEJL: The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, where she focuses on Jewish environmental sustainability, presenting a Jewish voice on environmental policy, and providing resources for environmentalism and Jewish life. Sybil also heads the Jewish Energy Covenant Campaign. A leader for years in advocacy on social-justice issues — including the environment, workers' rights and universal human rights — Sybil has served as executive director of the Jewish Labor Committee and as director of United Nations Affairs at B'nai B'rith International. Sybil completed her master's degree in international affairs at Columbia University. She speaks Hebrew, French and Serbo-Croatian, and she wants to learn Spanish to communicate with her extended Mexican family and share in the preservation of her husband's crypto-Jewish Latino heritage.
Dr. Orr Karassin
Climate-change adaptation has become, and will continue to become, an ever more important issue. As we go forward and there is no generally binding agreement that will begin to lower the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere down to 350 parts per million, we are seeing more and more adverse effects, especially in developing countries, where they have lobbied hard for more attention to be paid to adaptation. In response, in Durban we formed an adaptation committee as a formal part of the climate-change conference.
The continued refusal of the United States to come to any sort of international agreement is very distressing. The United States is jeopardizing its position as a world leader — instead of America, we're seeing the leadership coming from Europe.
Israel has a target of 20 percent reduction from expected 2020 levels in greenhouse-gas emissions.
Dr. Orr Karassin is one of the Green Zionist Alliance representatives on the board of directors of Keren Kayemet L'Yisrael (KKL / Jewish National Fund in Israel), and she led the KKL-JNF delegation to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Durban. She is also the chairperson of the Sustainable Development Council of Kfar Saba. Orr was the first executive director of Life and Environment, the umbrella group for Israeli environmental organizations. She was appointed by the Israeli government to serve as a charter member of the National Committee for Environmental Quality. Orr has held the position of visiting research fellow at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science and she is currently a lecturer at Sapir College Law School in Sderot, Israel, where she is responsible for the law-and-environment program. Additionally, Orr was among the founders of Green Course, Israel's largest environmental organization for students. Orr is the author of two books on environmental policy and she has published widely on environmental policy and law both in academic and non-academic journals.
There was a large faith-based rally the day before the climate-change conference started, hosted by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, with COP President Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, musical group Ladysmith Black Mambazo and several thousand people in attendance. I think that there is a continued need for a strong faith presence at these sorts of political gatherings. As representatives of faiths, we continually advocate for the poorest of the poor, those that don't have political power.
Michael Schut serves as the economic and environmental-affairs officer of the Episcopal Church, following 11 years on the staff of Earth Ministry. He has edited and partially authored three books and study guides: "Money and Faith: The Search for Enough;" "Food and Faith: Justice, Joy and Daily Bread;" and "Simpler Living, Compassionate Life: A Christian Perspective." He coordinates and provides resources for eco-justice programs in the church and speaks and leads workshops and retreats connecting faith, justice, economics and ecology. Michael represented the Episcopal Church on a Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships White House Task Force on Environment and Climate Change. He has worked with the homeless, served as a park ranger and led wilderness-backpacking trips. He received his master's in environmental studies from the University of Oregon.
After the challenges in Copenhagen, we were able to revive the climate-change talks last year in Cancun, but there were a lot of questions that remained. We're still on a path to potentially catastrophic climate change, but the Durban negotiations opened the door to a new direction, where we could have a truly comprehensive and sufficient global agreement to address the climate crisis, but we really have to kick that door open, and walk through it quickly.
Many of the logistical decisions were made concerning the development of the Green Climate Fund, which is good, but the question of how the fund will be financially supported remains unanswered. There also were discussions of how to set up green technology centers — so that countries could share environmental technologies — and how to measure, record and verify emissions-reductions targets.
Perhaps most importantly, a new platform was launched: The Durban Platform for Enhanced Action. These negotiations were very clearly aimed at developing a legally binding framework, to be agreed upon by 2015 and effective by 2020. A legally binding agreement would allow us to hold countries accountable.
There was quite a large faith-based presence at Durban, but only a small Jewish presence. Additionally, being an American is really tough at these negotiations. The entire time that we were there, the United States was putting forth proposals with which we did not agree at all. At the end of the day, the European Union and India were the key leaders, and the United States was unusually not center stage.
David Turnbull is the former director of Climate Action Network, which includes hundreds of NGOs in dozens of countries working together to develop and advocate for global solutions to the climate crisis. David serves on the board of directors of SustainUS: U.S. Youth for Sustainable Development. Previously, David worked at the World Resources Institute as a coordinator for a pair of international networks working to promote inclusive and accountable environmental governance. He also has conducted climate research at the Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire. David received his bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College in geography and environmental studies.
Israeli Nature Poll
"It should not be believed that all the beings exist for the sake of the existence of humanity. On the contrary, all the other beings too have been intended for their own sakes, and not for the sake of something else."
Did You Know?
The use of drip irrigation was pioneered in Israel.
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