Winding Down (the Climate?) at the Durban Conference

Winding Down (the Climate?) at the Durban Conference


Wangari Maathai and Achim Steiner at the launch, 12.5 billion trees ago

Seen at the climate conference in its waning days: lots of young people from all over the world wearing T-shirts emblazoned with “I [heart] KP,” as in the Kyoto Protocol. News comes this a.m… however, that the KP may well be the dearly departed—dead but not quite buried (T-shirts are still visible). Last night I saw the adolescent German kid who’ll take over the global Billion Tree Campaign in an underground parking lot after a lavish UNEP event with Monaco’s green prince, Albert, and UNEP head Achim Steiner, to mark the campaign’s success: conceived by Wangari Maathai, 12.5 billion trees have been planted world-wide as a result of it. Felix, the indomitable tree-planter, was wearing his Billion Tree vest and chasing even younger South African kids while holding a watering can. I’m not quite sure what he was watering, since this was a very human-centered landscape.

This a.m. I saw more youth action, of a sort. The young man (maybe an adolescent, too) at the “Wizard Worms” compost exhibit was texting away as his worms, protected by newspaper, did their work. Let’s hope the government delegates do theirs. When I entered the conference center today, I heard “the change that is needed” being intoned by another government representative (via closed circuit TV). As I walked on, I wondered, rather cynically I’ll admit, is anybody still really listening?

Photo by UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme)