Delay kills

So I'm sitting down to write today's blog, with my socks on the radiator and my free UN mittens on my icy feet, when I get the call. "Al Gore's giving a speech at 1.15!".  I had been about to describe in great detail the new Oxfam ice sculpture that was carved this morning at the entrance to the UN Climate Talks here in Poznan - in two massive blocks of ice - the cold, hard truth - "Delay Kills".

But no - instead I must rush, I hesitate to say 'hotfoot' - to the main hall of the conference centre to hear Al Gore's verdict on the negotiations that have taken place these last two weeks.

He certainly has a presence, and can fill a room in more ways than one. He opened by outlining the size of the task at hand - "the biggest challenge mankind has ever faced". "The planet", he said, "doesn't give credit for a 'good try'. We succeed or we fail." 

To rapturous applause he emphasised the message that Oxfam has been driving home here throughout the past fortnight, that the link must be made between poverty reduction and a strong reduction in emissions; that adequate funding must be made for poor countries to adapt to the change in climate that has been inflicted upon them by the developed world. 

He said that capacity building in developing countries has been a theme of these talks, but that little is said of the capacity building required in the developed world - "we need to focus unblinking on this crisis and spend less time talking about OJ Simpson, Paris Hilton and Anna Nicole-Smith." This drew laughter from the crowd but the point is a serious one... and perhaps we are at the opening of a new chapter in the fight against climate change. He described a recent meeting before travelling to Poznan in which he was reassured by Barack Obama that "the time for denial is over, and the time for delay is over."

For people throughout sub-Saharan Africa, in island nations such as the Maldives, and for milllions of others worldwide who are already affected by climate change, these cold hard facts are already clear: delay kills.

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