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Durban blog: Deal impossible...until it is done

First day at the climate conference is tense and exciting, says Walid Mustapha, a University of Copenhagen student and forestry activist in this first report from South Africa

Today, the first day of COP 17 was commenced. A day I was patiently looking forward to and the opening plenary session was just half-an-hour and one security checkpoint away. As this was my first time attending a COP, I had many notions of what these climate negotiations would entail, and while some of my expectations were met, others were not.

The opening plenary session consisted of inspirational speeches provided by keynote speakers. Christiana Figueres, the UNFCCC executive secretary, stated during her speech that »it always seems impossible until it’s done«, a quote she borrowed from Nelson Mandela, which signifies the daunting task the parties will face for the duration of the climate negotiations.

The first day gave me a feeling of tension and excitement, in front of the issues which will be raised during the conference. Will the countries be able to achieve any kind of agreement? The member countries seem to be divided and while many annex 1 countries are pursuing a new agreement, many NGO’s have uttered their concern that this new agreement, which will presumably be based on a pledge and review system, will be too lenient.

The day ended with a reception gathering all delegates to celebrate the opening of COP 17. I was left with a feeling of despair when I went to bed. I hope the conference will lead to an agreement based on common goals. But everything I have heard suggests otherwise.

Read the hopes and fears of an activist here.
Read the assessment of a leading climate scientist here.

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