Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Durban

by Cameron Fenton

The wealthiest, most polluting nations on the globe have hung a sign over Durban’s International Convention Center.

It stares in the face of delegates from around the globe at every turn, promising the world untold devastation.

The sign reads “Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here”.

Here at COP17 the world’s biggest emitters, being led by the United States, are telling the rest of the world that right now is the time to wait. They have begun a push to delay a legally binding, international agreement to address climate change until 2020 – five years after the time scientists from around globe have identified as the red line to peak global emissions.

We are standing upon a continent literally being cooked by climate change. Across Africa the impact of climate change is not defined by future climate modeling scenarios or imagined through the lens of Hollywood special effects flooding Manhattan. Here climate change is simplified: it means water shortage, famine, increasing and expanding ranges of some of our world’s deadliest diseases, disappearing shorelines and forests, and the list goes on – all in a continent already ravaged by centuries of colonization, war, poverty and the greed of western nations.

Yet, as this happens the message from the leaders of the Western world is: “Wait, help is coming… eventually.”

It is not simply a piece of paper or a commitment at stake here in Durban. As COP17 draws nearer to a close we face a very real fight to save hope.

This is not the false, corporate banner of hope that Coca-Cola sponsored across the Copenhagen talks in 2009. Rather, this is the fire in the bellies of all those people form across the globe here in Durban to build a just and sustainable future. Those countries and interests pushing for a delay in progress until 2020 under the banner of political realism are asking the unreasonable of the rest of the world. They are asking those already suffering to give up hope.

During the civil rights movement, young organizers across the southern United States often referred to the fight to desegregate the South as battle for the soul of America. Here in Durban, the fight for climate justice is the fight for the hope and imagination of our entire generation. The stand being taken by our nations is not simply a death sentence for thousands around the globe, but a clear declaration that they are not negotiating on behalf of the interests of our generation.

On Wednesday, six young people from Canada stood up in defense of hope. Today they were joined by a young woman from the United States. All of them were thrown out of the United Nations climate talks, not because they did not believe in the process, but because they believe so fiercely in the necessity of its success.

Youth have joined in the United Nations process in good faith since Severn Suzuki’s impassioned plea to the globe at Rio in 1992. We have placed our future in the hands of politicians, business, and a global process that has promised results, only to deliver half measures and false victories. And yet we continue to return, not because we are gluttons for punishment, but because we know that without global action our future hangs in the balance.

Despite our leaders, we will keep hope alive. For our future and for our sisters and brothers around the globe who are watching their world burn, 2020 is too late.

We will not be silent. We are your guilty conscience.

Follow Cameron Fenton on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CamFenton

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: