High hopes ahead of COP17 talks

2011-11-26 17:47

With only a day to go before Durban hosts the United Nations 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17), conference secretary Christiana Figueres is “hopeful’’ the “tough’’ climate change negotiations will deliver solid agreements on limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

Figueres, who has the task of trying to get more than 190 nations to agree on how to regulate their carbon footprints, said that while “there is no such thing as an easy COP’’, each meeting was “a step forward’’ in finding solutions to the planet’s ecological and climatic crisis.

“This is in no way easy, but is crucial,’’ she said in a short interview during a brief visit to a reforestation project in Durban set up to offset the estimated 15 000 tons of carbon that will be generated by about 20 000 participants in the 10-day climate talks that end on December 9.

Figueres said she was “impressed’’ by the “highly detailed’’ preparations ahead of the landmark talks, which will ultimately determine the future of the Kyoto Protocol.

Earlier in the day, the Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre was handed over to UN control by South Africa’s acting national police commissioner, Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi.

The entire precinct now falls within a UN-run “blue line’’ and will only become South African soil again on December 9.

UN head of security services , who commands the multinational personnel responsible for security, said he was impressed with the level of preparation by the South African security establishment.

Local security personnel provide security for the area beyond the UN precinct perimeter.

Mkhwanazi said he was confident coordination between the various security services, the intelligence community and the UN would be enough to deal with any criminal activity or any other kind of security threat.

Special courts would operate at the nearby magistrates’ court complex 24 hours a day to deal with any COP17-related crime.

The city was already awash with thousands of police and army officials yesterday, while immigrations teams at the airport were beefed up to deal with the influx of delegates and observers, which will begin in earnest today.

Throughout the city centre, beachfront and suburbs that will house UN delegates, construction teams were
putting on the finishing touches to cycle lanes, pavements and solar-powered street lights.

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