Biggest Week For Climate Before Copenhagen

21 September 2009

Ulamila Kurai Wragg is a mother, journalist and climate activist in the Cook Islands. She’s one of four “climate witnesses” in New York this week as important high-level talks on climate change take place in the city.It could be the storyline for a movie. Four women from across the globe land in New York City just days ahead of world leaders arriving for join one of the most important climate change talks ahead of the UN summit in Copenhagen.
Back home, these women experience the very real impacts of climate change. They’re in the big smoke to get their vital message to the people ultimately responsible for solving the climate crisis – world leaders.

Ullamila Kurai Wragg (Cook Islands), Constance Okollet (Uganda), Sharon Hanshaw (Biloxi, Mississippi, USA) and Ursula Rakova (Carteret Islands) are all witnesses to the increasing impacts of climate change.

» Video: Ulamila talks about her experience of climate change impacts.

This week, 20-26 September, is a week of high-level climate talks.

Alliance of Small Island States

It all kicks off on Monday with leaders of the 42-member Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) convening in the Big Apple. They plan to set a course for their negotiators in the crucial final months of talks on a new international agreement on climate change.

With its populations at the front line of climate change’s impacts, AOSIS is the moral voice in the negotiations. If global average temperatures continue to rise many of their homelands will become uninhabitable. They want the survival of small island states to be set as the benchmark for global climate action and have just launched a ‘1.5°C to stay alive’ campaign.

UN talks

On Tuesday, the largest-ever gathering of world leaders on climate change will be convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, with plans to ‘mobilise the political will and vision’ required to achieve a successful outcome at Copenhagen.

US President Barack Obama will deliver a speech on climate change to the UN, and our own Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, will chair a roundtable discussion. Will Rudd keep it clean or pave the way for a dirty deal at Copenhagen?

» Take the pledge: tell Rudd if he does a dirty deal at Copenhagen, you’ll make his name a dirty word

Pittsburgh for the G20

Later in the week, leaders will head to Pittsburg to discuss finance at a G20 leaders meeting. Now, while the Global Financial Crisis will be high on the agenda, another global economic crisis is looming – the cost of runaway climate change.

G20 leaders need to agree on financing to the tune of at least US$140 billion annually for developing countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change and adopt clean technologies. Australia’s fair share will be AU$4.3 billion (US$3.5 billion) per year.

Many industrialised countries are lowering expectations for Copenhagen, preparing to greenwash a poor outcome and put the blame on China and India, selling out the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people in the process.

Will Rudd keep it clean?

There are ways that Kevin Rudd could help climate talks make progress rather than stall. He could lift Australia’s climate ambition from a dismal 5-25% to the 50% cuts required and he could announce that Australia will pay its fair share to clean up the damage caused by our polluting industries.

» Take the pledge: tell Rudd if he does a dirty deal at Copenhagen, you’ll make his name a dirty word

So, back to our four women. We’ll keep you posted about how they go in New York.