martes, 8 de diciembre de 2009

Encounter with Wangari Maathai


I have the guy who led us to the queue sitting in front of me. Actually, I find amazing the good humour of the Danish people, they are all smiley and friendly any time of the day or evening, including early ours in the morning! I find them rather helpful.

So yes! I have met Wangari Mathaai :D Actually, it was nothing extraordinary. She reminds me of some many of other African women I have met during my year in Africa, deligent, good-willed, and good spirited! It's just a really good vibe. She gave a presentation about the work of the Green Belt Movement. There were not many people, perhaps 30, and I took the last round question. She had just talked about the need to teach kids from an early age about environmental education and include exams to test their knowledge. I replied I don't really think that it is about environmental education since it is already taught in many schools around the world, but rather about respect and human values. I asked her is she thinks there is a chance that this can be taught in school through formal education. She didn't really answer my question but gave a speech about respect and mentioned some Japanese principle sounding something like "Mofainai", which embodies the concepts of respect, gratitude and not wasting. Maathai expects from COP that the REDD initiative is supported, that a financial mechanism as proposed by Charles Prince of Wales is passed (I don't know anything about this), and that there will be an emphasis on the protection and regeneration (reforestation) and afforestation of indigenous forests and avoid plantations (which I think are considered as forests under the Kyoto Protocol, but feel free to correct me on this).

I had groups of people shouting "Offsetting doesn't work" and people dressed as trees shouting "Sweden wants to take the whole of the EU in its failed forest policy", adding, "When you see a Sweden delegate, tell them what we think about their forest proposals". It was all very amusing. I mean, very serious, but I am already convinced, so it is nice to think that other people also have a chance to know :)

I have had a very laid back day. I could not fall asleep last night as I had some many thoughts in my head and had not eaten a lot, so I feel dreadfully tired today. When I was in the plenary session this morning I could just not take any notes that made sense, and left early. Then I went to a session about the inclusion of the carbon aviation into the ETS (European Trading System) of a new treaty on carbon trading and well, if you agree with cap and trade, it can be good news from someone. Any planes entering or leaving EU space will have to enter the scheme, so obviously this has a huge impact in global terms. At the end of a session an American lady (I assume she was not Canadian) complained this rule violates a country's sovereignty over its air space. Duh!

Then I took a while to walk around. I met a guy who works for the University of Cape Town's water management department, finally changed money, and went to the Post. While I was eating I got an invitation to the release of a book called "Changing Climate, Changing Economy", co-authored by Nicholas Stern, who is the author of the famous Stern Review. I will also get the book for free (apparently), and I really need to go home early, so no excuse not to attend, it's right next to the central train station, and it's in my way home!


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