The UN climate summit in Copenhagen came to a temporary halt on December 9 as the small Pacific Island nation of Tuvalu demanded commitment to a legally-binding agreement while industrialised nations refused to express an opinion.
Tuvalu is demanding a new treaty to run alongside the Kyoto protocol that would set the maximum allowable temperature increase to be 1.5 degrees Celsius, instead of 2 degrees Celsius rise usually put forth by developed countries and big emerging economies like India and China. In addition, they requested that atmospheric carbon levels be set at 350 parts per million (ppm) instead of 450 ppm.
They were rebuffed by China and India, among others, who made discouraging statements about the potential for a treaty.
The conference went into recess for a couple of hours, and when the plenary reconvened at 3pm faced 200-300 people from civil society with banners and placards rallying in support of Tuvalu's stand and demanding a fair, ambitious and binding deal.
Tuvalu, the 4th smallest country, is home to just over 12,000 people and is one of the Global Faces of Climate Change threatened by rising sea levels. It was joined in its new demands by the Cook Islands, Fiji, Barbados, Sierra Leone, Senegal, and Cape Verde.
For its action Tuvalu won the first ever 'Ray of the day' award "given on rare occasions for actions to substantially advance progress in global climate talks. ". The award was given by the Fossil of the Day Awards by the Climate Action Network. (Youtube Video)
Geenpeace Climate Rescue Blog - Tuvalu stops play in Copenhagen by demanding legally-binding agreement
Photoset on Flickr from Oxfam (creative Commons Licensed)
Greenpeace Youtube video report on Tuvalu climate leadership
350.org Youtube video - Impromptu action in support of Tuvalu - Copenhagen
Takver is a citizen journalist from Melbourne who has been writing on Climate Change issues and protests including Rising Sea Level, Ocean acidification, Environmental and social Impacts since 2004.