Ambassador Willaims of the small island state of Grenada address a small rally just outside the confines of the COP17 conference in Durban as Ambassado Jumeau of the Seychelles looks on. © John Robinson / Greenpeace
Today, what has so far been a rather barren Occupy COP17 movement was joined at Speaker’s Corner outside the ICC by some exotic delegates who had a message for the people and for the policymakers.
Delegates from the Caribbean and Seychelles islands came out to remind us that even though we don’t see it outside our window right now, there are many places in the world for which further climate change and a rise in sea levels would be fatal.
The delegate from the Caribbean, for instance, said “I come from a region where by the end of the century, the low level atolls will be submerged. Our food and water security will be compromised - our survivability will dangerously diminished.”
Inside the conference, these small island states are campaigning for the survival of the waning Kyoto Protocol, so that “we all know what to expect”. They want to stop the global average temperature rise at 1.5 degrees instead of the expected 2 degrees, which means we need to get the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere to 350 parts per million - we currently have 387 parts per million.
“We want policies that make the world safe and decisions that make the world do the right thing,” the islands delegation continued. “The survivability of our people is essential and is what we are pushing for inside the negotiation halls.”
However, it’s not just about the islands in the ocean - the closing message of the meeting was the strongest and most poignant:
“The same message applies to port city of Durban. If we go under, Durban goes under. When the storms come to cover our islands, they will cover the low-lying parts of Durban. So this conference cannot condemn us without condemning itself. During COP17, we are all small islanders. Don't save us, save yourselves. We are one and the same.”