News / Africa

Thousands March for Climate Action in Durban

Demonstrators march outside the U.N. climate conference in Durban, South Africa, December 3, 2011.
Demonstrators march outside the U.N. climate conference in Durban, South Africa, December 3, 2011.



Activists, rights groups and citizens from around the world took to the streets of Durban Saturday to urge government negotiators at the U.N. climate change conference to take their demands seriously.

In a peaceful show of force, thousands of people marched through the streets of Durban toward the downtown conference center where delegates from nearly 200 nations are debating efforts to combat climate change.

The diverse crowd - representing groups from all across Africa, the United States and Latin America - were all united in their disappointment so far in the U.N. negotiations.

Sanele and Shepherd are two high school students from just outside Durban.

"What we are demanding? We are demanding for COP 17 to stop," said Sanele.

"Must end," said Shepherd.

"Must end actually, yes," Sanele echoed.

"It's been many years speaking about climate change, it's been 17 years now," said Shepherd.

"There must be a solution," said Sanele.

COP-17, as it is known, is the 17th Conference of Parties - an annual meeting of world governments and interested parties aimed at forging large-scale agreements to tackle climate change.

But at the march in Durban the Conference of Parties was known by another name: the "Conference of Polluters."

Nigerian environmental activist Nnimmo Bassey addressed the crowd outside the gates of the Durban convention center.

"We don't want Africa to be cooked, we don't want Africa to be roasted, we don't want Africa to be boiled, we demand, we the people of Africa, demand that our leaders should hear us," said Bassey.

Bassey also demanded that negotiators agree to a new legally-binding mandate to cut carbon dioxide emissions, blamed for global warming.

Governments at COP17 are considering a second commitment period to the Kyoto protocol - the current legal mandate in place to curb carbon emissions.  

While the European Union is strongly in favor of the move, other countries that were part of Kyoto, including Canada, Russia and Japan are losing interest.  The United States has said it will not accept any legally-binding mandate.

Demonstrators handed a letter over to the South African president of COP17, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and the U.N. executive secretary of the conference, Christina Figueres.

Figueres thanked the crowd for their enthusiasm.

"I'm well aware that it's not just you that it's millions around the world.  Minister Mashabane and I are working to push governments in that direction.  We are working tirelessly.  I want you to know they were working until four o'clock this morning and we will continue to work," said Figueres.

Negotiations will continue over the weekend on several key issues including the second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol and the establishment of a Green Climate Fund to help developing nations.

Expectations for a major climate deal have been low, while the call for action has been as loud as ever.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs