South Africa

Banks Criticised for Lending Funds to Coal Industry

Campaigners say the leading banks around the world lent U$308 billion to the coal industry, one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gases, from 2005 to 2010.

They stated that the figures, presented on the sidelines of the 17th Conference of Parties in Durban, come from a trawl through the lending portfolios of 93 of the world's leading banks.

This view is reiterated by Earthlife Africa Johannesburg’s Tristen Taylor, who argues that, their figures clearly show that coal financing is on the rise.

NGO Calls for Family Planning

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) says that women need access to family planning and contraception services if HIV/AIDS among pregnant women is to be reduced.

Catherine Tomlinson, a senior researcher at TAC, points out that it is crucial to address the need for family planning and contraception services.

“We need to expand services for women to become pregnant safely without risking becoming HIV-positive. To do this, women should be given the knowledge and services to plan their pregnancies,” she explains.

Idasa to Close Cape Town Office

As previously reported by West Cape News, Western Cape-based organisation Rape Crisis has had to pull back its operations, and now the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa) is being forced to lay-off almost half of its long-time staff in their Cape Town and Johannesburg offices.

The organisation's executive director, Paul Graham, says that they are on the downstream of the ‘massive economic slump’ in Europe and North America where the majority of their funding came from.

HIV: More Pregnant Mothers Infected

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says that the HIV-prevalence among pregnant women in the country has increased from 29.4 to 30.2 percent.

Motsoaledi, who released the National Antenatal Sentinel HIV and Syphilis Prevalence survey, pointed out that, “We’re still far from winning the war, but we are getting somewhere.”

COP17 Urged to Reaffirm Kyoto Protocol

President Jacob Zuma has urged delegates at the United Nations climate summit to work for an outcome that is ‘balanced, fair and credible’ and reaffirm the Kyoto Protocol.

Zuma stated that a key issue facing delegates has to do with a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, and reaching agreement on the legal nature of a future climate change system.

Occupy Movement for COP17

Inspired by the Occupy Wall St movement, protesters calling for ‘climate justice’ are set to gather at the opening of UN climate talks in Durban, according to organisers.

Patrick Bond, professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, points out that, "A meeting at the 'Speaker's Corner' will be called, an assembly," referring to a spot near the venue of the COP17.

Bond, who is associated with the largely youth-driven initiative, states that, "Negotiations have begun with the city on an authorised protest space."

Hope for Kyoto Protocol Extension

The extension of the Kyoto Protocol is the main hope of South Africa and most developing nations at the 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) climate change summit in Durban, according to lead climate change negotiator, Alf Wills.

Wills states that the Kyoto Protocol is the only instrument in which all rules associated with accounting for carbon emissions are agreed and it is in the country’s interests to preserve those rules.

Secrecy Bill to Silence Public – LSSA

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) has warned that the Protection of State Information Bill in its present form would not only silence the media, but also the general public.

LSSA co-chairs, Nano Matlala and Praveen Sham, point out that, "The courts, to a large extent, remain the preserve of the wealthy and most ordinary citizens who become aware of corruption and maladministration will be silenced for life if the bill goes unchallenged."

Call to Halt Global Warning

The United Nation’s top official on climate change, Christiana Figueres, says that new research and findings are ‘sounding alarm bells’ for urgent action to halt global warming.

Speaking at a curtain-raiser media briefing in Durban, ahead of the official opening of the COP17 conference, Figueres said that there are two very important backdrops to the next fortnight’s negotiations.

“The first has to do with a growing momentum for action… and the other is the new research and the findings that are sounding alarm bells for urgent action,” she explained.


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