COP17 - United Nations Climate Change Conference 2011

Marcela Chic in Guatemala

Climate change is contributing to food shortages in many Guatemalan villages.  With CWS support, Marcela Chic and her neighbors in the Guatemalan highlands are learning to grow vegetables in simple greenhouses, increasing their access to nutritious foods year-round.
Photo: Ronda Hughes/CWS

“COP17” is shorthand for the 17th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, being held in Durban, South Africa from 28 November - 9 December 2011.  Held annually, the Conference of Parties is the biggest and most authoritative meeting of national governments to respond to the global phenomenon of rising atmospheric temperatures caused primarily by the burning of fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal) that release heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

COP17 is critical because the only legally-binding international agreement to reduce carbon emissions, the Kyoto Protocol, is due to expire.  Neither of the current two largest emitters of atmospheric carbon the United States and China has signed the Kyoto Protocol, and other countries have indicated they are unwilling to extend the Protocol without them.  In addition to disagreement over whether or not to extend the Kyoto Protocol, there continues to be sharp debate over the establishment of a global fund to help the most affected nations deal with the negative impacts of climate change.  As governments face difficult decisions, the people of the world are making their voices heard.


Kenyan youth return from COP17 aiming to take action on climate
As extended climate change talks ended in Durban, South Africa, on Sunday with much unresolved despite agreement to extend the Kyoto Protocol through 2017, a group of young Kenyan delegates who traveled to Durban in an African youth caravan are now returning home, set to shoulder more responsibility for the future themselves.

ACT Alliance press releases on the Durban climate change talks

Church World Service is a member of ACT. ACT is a global alliance of 125 churches and related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development.

Letter to President Obama (pdf)
November 17, 2011 letter notes that COP17 poses “a tremendous opportunity for the U.S. to play a pro-active, positive role” in gaining world agreement in Durban to one concrete source of climate finance and to ensuring that a vehicle for handling those funds is “transparent, accountable and environmentally sound” and ensures the participation of affected communities.

On Durban and climate change: "America leads, it does not follow," CWS urges President
November 18, 2011 press release from Church World Service.

Global Youth to exert pressure on world leaders at Durban Climate Change Summit
On the eve of the global climate change summit of world leaders in Durban, South Africa, young people from Church World Service programs in Africa will join their counterparts from around the globe in presenting 1 million petitions to Archbishop Desmond Tutu at a massive Nov. 27 interfaith youth rally in Durban, hosted by the archbishop.

CWS Africa

CWS Board resolution (pdf)
A CWS resolution on the need for a worthy U.S. response to climate change.

We Have Faith: Act Now for Climate Justice
African-initiated, ACT Alliance supported campaign calling on negotiators to treat the Earth with respect, resist disorder and live in peace with each other, including embracing a legally binding climate treaty.

National Climate Ethics Campaign
CEC Statement of our nation's moral obligation to address climate change.

Working Together: Saving Tomorrow Today
Official website of the COP17/CMP7 United Nations Climate Change Conference 2011 in Durban, South Africa.

While urging the U.S. and other national governments to do the right thing in Durban, CWS is working with people in developing countries to improve their lives in ways that are environmentally sustainable.

Biogas generators in Africa

Environment and economy in Pakistan