The most important climate meeting of the year, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Convention of Parties in Durban, South Africa, has just concluded, with the US envoy “relieved” by the results, but developing countries frustrated by the failure of developed nations to take greater responsibility for emissions. At Nature News, Frank MacDonald, a veteran reporter who has attended nearly every Convention of Parties meeting since they began in 1992, recounts his experiences as a spectator on the edge of the climate poker game:
Nearly 20 years ago, as I wandered as a newspaper reporter from tent to tent at the Global Forum in Rio de Janeiro’s Flamingo Park, with young, idealistic environmental activists milling about, I couldn’t help thinking of Dale Arden’s line from the film Flash Gordon, a decade before: “Flash, Flash, I love you, but we only have 14 hours to save the Earth!”
Brazil’s 1992 Earth Summit was in full swing, and when it closed it even seemed that we would manage to save the world from global warming, and species extinction too. After all, delegates at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development — as it was officially known — had just adopted two conventions to stave off these threats.