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Dec 162009

On Monday, I attended a side event presented by Oxfam where Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former president of Ireland, Mary Robinson both spoke. Along with these two speakers, there were four people testifying about how climate change has affected them. Archbishop Tutu described that the people who want to see a deal to be passed and care about climate change are good human beings. I thought that his speech was powerful. He spoke directly to what the issue is. I thought his explanation of the situation in Copenhagen was correct when he described it as all kinds of competing voices trying to be heard. At the same time, other voices are trying to persuade people to listen. The key to these talks are for people to listen one another. I believe listening is part of the key to coming up with a deal because we all need to listen to everyone’s side of the story. But there comes a time when a person or a delegation needs to decide what is more important. I believe the most important issue on the agenda is bringing down carbon emissions to a level where climate change does not become more severe.

As Archbishop Tutu stated the actions in Copenhagen are a matter of survival or doom. Do we really want to see beautiful islands go underwater? Do we want to see people fighting and may die due to lack of resources? Do we want to see animals go extinct? Personally, I don’t want to see any of this occur and I am willing to give up some of my comforts to help others. Why can’t our leaders understand this is what a growing number people would like to see a binding treaty come out of Copenhagen? These people are growing in numbers every day as climate change affects more people each day. I know not everyone may agree but climate change is becoming a more serious issue as each day passes. At this time, climate change is not affecting the rich countries as much as it is affecting poor countries. Archbishop Tutu stated the rich countries are punishing the innocent who are the poor countries.

As the people testified and told their stories, there main points was to be heard and for strong action against climate change to begin. The first speaker stated as the glacier recede, the town will begin to face water shortages. Along with the water shortages, the town is experiencing extreme weather and changes in weather patterns. These changes are affecting the culture and life of the town. I thought one of the most touching parts of his speech was when he posed the question are we guilty? This town is not emitting large amounts of carbon emissions. Why should these people suffer and lose so much while other countries lose little. The most inspiring part of his speech was when he said he will keep on telling his story until he is heard. As the people testified, they shared many of the same points. All of the testimonies stated the same want from Copenhagen that a strong deal passed to be passed. If it is not passed in Copenhagen, they will not stop telling their stories until they are heard. As I listened to their stories, I heard the strength and power in their voices. I hope that their stories can be heard and leaders and delegates begin to listen as Archbishop Tutu asked for us to do. Listening is not a heard concept. If we would open our ears, we may be able to get something done in Copenhagen.

Mary Robinson closed the session by saying all of the testimonies have similarities and no matter where a person lives, they are vulnerable to climate change. As time goes on, these problems will just get worse and the effects will be long felt. Another point she made was that the poor are having the least role in the talks on climate change. These poor countries have the most to lose from climate change at this moment. The verdict that she gave from the testimonies was for there to be a fair ambitious and binding deal made in Copenhagen. We must tackle climate change. The people are becoming louder than ever and pushing for this issue to be addressed, where strong outcomes will occur. She stated as a condition of the deal that countries must cut emissions by forty percent. The proposed cuts predicted to come out of Copenhagen are to be an eight to twelve percent cut which is not enough. If action is not done now, the effects of climate change will get worse and more people will be affected.

 At the end of this clip they show one of the people testifying and Mary Robinson speak.

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