As the global climate talks in Durban come down their last 48 hours, citizen pressure here at the talks and around the world seems to be making a big impact. It’s far to early to tell what the final outcome of these talks are going to be, but over the course of Thursday afternoon we’ve seen some movement away from the most damaging proposals that the US and others have put on the table. 

Just yesterday, the United States was actively pushing countries to delay a new climate treaty until 2020, a move that would have effectively slammed the door on avoiding catastrophic climate change. They were also lobbying heavily against the Kyoto Protocol, the one legally binding framework the world has for cutting emissions. 

These moves sparked international outrage. Together with our allies at Avaaz, sent out a global petition pushing the US to back away from the 2020 timeline, gathering hundreds of thousands of signatures. Here at the talks, African youth delivered a letter to the US delegation asking them to “not sign our death sentence in Durban.” Here’s a photo: 

And less than an hour ago, Abigail Borah, a student from Middlebury College in Vermont was ejected from the plenary for interrupting US Negotiator Todd Stern’s speech. “I am speaking on behalf of the United States, because our negotiators are not,” said Abigail, before being ejected by security. After her speech, the plenary ERUPTED in thunderous applause. 

This combination of inside action and outside pressure is beginning to add up. In a press conference this morning, Stern (the US negotiator) wavered a bit on the 2020 timeline and didn’t seem as committed as before. Then, this afternoon, the Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent said in a impromptu press scrum that Canada was willing to consider a binding climate treaty before 2015. That’s a dramatic change of tone and it only came after consistent pressure to shame Canada — just yesterday, a group of Canadian youth were ejected from the talks for disrupting Kent’s speech to the negotiations. 
There’s still much more work to do in the coming hours. The fate of Kyoto is uncertain, no one seems to know if rich country’s will put up money to fill the new Green Climate Fund, and the question of a “mandate” to keep negotiating and it’s timeline (2013, 2015 or 2020) is still all up in the air. 
One thing is for sure: we’re going to keep pushing. Please sign on to our call to action if you haven’t already, the more voices we can pull together to push back on the US, the more likely it is we can avoid catastrophe here in Durban. Many thanks to everyone who’s already busy spreading the word. Let’s go do this.