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Cover Stories Series 2011
UPDATED: November 29, 2011
Save Tomorrow Today

Save Tomorrow, Today. Those were the words of South African President Jacob Zuma, as he opened the United Nations COP17 (The 17th session of the Conference of the Parties) Climate Change Conference, in Durban, South Africa on Monday. The two-week-long conference is aimed at getting nearly 200 countries to agree to cut greenhouse gas emissions in order to keep any rise in global average temperatures to below two degrees centigrade.

A warm Durban welcome for the 194 nations attending COP 17.

And this 17th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is all about getting the countries around the world to dance to the same tune.

The opening ceremony kicked off with Mexico officially handing over the COP 17 Presidency to South Africa.

Incoming President Maite Nkoane-Mashabane said the Durban conference was a decisive moment in global climate negotiations.

She reminded delegates that they were in Durban for one purpose - to find a common solution that would secure a safe future for generations to come.

President Jacob Zuma said for most people in Africa, climate change was a matter of life and death.

He said Africa's vulnerability not only stemmed from climate change impacts such as the rise in sea level, severe droughts and floods. But Africa was particularly vulnerable because of poverty, which limited its ability to cope with the impact of climate change.

Activists warned that carbon emissions were rising, despite the global economic crisis. They were concerned that developed nations might not rise to the occasion and honour their commitments to take more responsibility to reduce climate change.

Tasneem Essop from World Wildlife Fund said, "This is an African COP. And the African continent would require certainty. Especially, given that they are the most vulnerable in terms of the impact of climate change. We would want certainty about where the support will come from. And that's certainly not on the table right now."

Oxford Committee for Famine Relief said, "I think it's important that we remember, that the first time that the Climate Talks came to Africa was 10 years ago in Marrakech in 2001. At that COP there was a promise made to the poorest countries on the planet that their adaptation needs would be fully funded by developed countries. Ten years on that promise has all but been broken. And so it's vital that we don't have another lost decade of adaptation investment 10 years ahead. When we look back on this African COP, we must make sure that history doesn't repeat itself."

Most stakeholders at the Durban conference agree that the world urgently needs to get a grip on rising global emissions. And rich nations have to deliver on their promises of $100 billion a year to help the world's poorer nations cope with the effects of climate change. And these issues will top the agenda for the next two weeks.

(CNTV.cn November 29, 2011)

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