climate change

climate change

  • Climate Change Not Receiving Attention

    One of the largest contributors to climate change is deforestation, accounting for 15 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions.

    Writing in their blog, Rosaly Bird, co-founder and author of the Sustainability Co-Op and Laurèn DeMates, environmentalist, social scientist, explorer and writer, argue that however, deforestation does not receive sufficient attention in climate discussions in developed countries, since the most threatened forests tend to be in developing countries.

    Although international negotiations, governments, and NGOs address deforestation as a climate change driver, there is a feeling that deforestation should be discussed more thoroughly in industrialised nations not only because climate change impacts are transnational, but also because through globalisation deforestation is tied to the developed world's demand for resources.

    To read the article titled, “Deforestation: The over-looked climate driver and what you can do about it,” click here.

    Huffington Post
  • Fracking Gas Emissions are Half That of Coal

    A new study finds that the life-time greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of shale gas are half that of coal, irrespective of whether the gas is used as natural gas or to generate electricity.

    Shale gas has been touted as a way to curb climate change and reduce the world’s reliance on coal, but many questions remain, such as whether it is in fact cleaner than coal and whether it contaminates ground water reservoirs, among others.

    Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, expresses to parliament that “The development of shale gas [in South Africa] cannot be dismissed or ignored ... We should be learning from others on how to best exploit this resource in the least intrusive and environmentally prudent way.”

    To read the article titled, “Emissions from fracking gas half that of coal, says study,” click here.

    Mail and Guardian
  • UNEA to Tackle Environmental Issues

    The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) will not be just a talk shop but will seek action on how to solve the environmental issues that are currently facing the world.

    UNEP executive director, Achim Steiner, points out that the world is facing an environmental crisis such as the illegal poaching of animals, plastics in the sea, air pollution, climate change and various other issues which have to be dealt with as soon as possible with decisive action.

    Steiner, who says the UNEA will attempt to find solutions to these environmental problems, cautions that it will be up to the government of different countries to make the UNEA a success.

    To read the article titled, “UNEA will not just be a talk shop: Steiner,” click here.

    SABC News
  • IPCC Warns Against Climate Change

    The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that climate change is already affecting lives and will have catastrophic impacts if carbon emissions are not lowered now.
    In its new report, the IPCC paints a world where human civilisation will struggle to survive unless carbon emissions are cut urgently, adding that the impacts if nothing happened will be ‘severe, pervasive and irreversible’.
    "Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change," explains Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the IPCC.
    To read the article titled, “IPCC report: Climate change will be 'irreversible',” click here.

    Mail and Guardian
  • Global Temperatures Continue to Soar - UN

    The United Nations says that 13 of the 14 warmest years on record have occurred since the turn of the new millennium.

    In its annual report, the United Nations' World Meteorological Organisation says that 2013 continued what is a long-term trend of the world getting warmer.

    Michel Jarraud, the organisation's secretary general, says in the report: "Many of the extreme events of 2013 were consistent with what we would expect as a result of human-induced climate change."

    To read the article titled, “UN finds global temperatures continue to soar,” click here.

    Mail and Guardian
  • Gore Speaks on Drastic Climate Change

    At a Climate Reality Leadership Corps training, former United States of America vice-president and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Al Gore, has given an overview of how humans are driving climate change.

    In his presentation, Gore discussed the effect of humans driving climate change and how this is changing conditions around the world right now.

    He stated that, the current global system was destroying the habitability of the planet by burning fossil fuels, and adds that it is wrong and needs to change.

    To read the article titled, “Al Gore speaks on drastic climate change at SA talk,” click here.

    Mail and Guardian
  • Environmentalists Walk Out of Climate Talks

    Several major environmental groups, including Greenpeace and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) walked out of United Nations climate talks in Warsaw.

    The groups staged the walk-out in protest at what they see as a lack of progress towards an international deal to control rising global greenhouse gas emissions.

    Over 9 000 representatives from about 195 countries gathered in the Polish capital for a two-week conference working towards a treaty to be signed in 2015 to fight climate change.

    To read the article titled, “Environmentalists walk out of Warsaw climate talks,” click here.

    Times Live
  • Global Warming Key to Food Security

    The United Nation World Food Programme (WFP) says global warming plays a big role in food security.
    WFP Southern Africa spokesperson, David Orr points out that there has been an increase in flooding in Southern Africa.
    Orr, who adds that the crop land has been pushed back by desert and drought has increased worldwide, says that the WFP is helping poor African nations with projects like building dams, irrigation canals and water harvesting systems, in the global fight against poverty.  
    To read article titled “Global warming plays key role in food security” click here.

    SABC News
  • Green Ultra Right Bombers

    So if you are wondering why the long silence since the post last week, well…I am in Durban after all, where things tend to move a little slower than Joburg and about as fast as Cape Town. And it has been busy: the ‘People’s Space’ at University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), mostly at the initiative of Patrick Bond, has taken off and is always buzzing with energy, people and a whole herd of news crews from local and international media. There are activists, socialists, NGO people, more activists and a whole bunch of artists as well, mostly thanks to the Climate Train initiative and the great crew that was on board that long trip around South Africa to Durban.

    The ‘occupy space’ has also been buzzing and you should take a look at the video post from the Ambush Collective who descended upon it and built a wonderful garden for the future. Which brings us neatly to another aspect of the ‘occupy space’ in Durban. It is not your classic people-driven occupy, but rather a city approved space for people to occupy during COP17, which was negotiated with the city by the civil society representatives on the C17. It is in that sense a new kind of occupy, a government approved and temporary allowance for people to express and engage.  While there are so many ideological issues with such a concept, I am trying to be brave and creative enough to let go off those issues and ideas of occupy as we know it from OWS and focus on what has been happening there and maybe, some thinking about what may come of it post COP17. So far, nothing has come of the ‘occupy space’ since the march on Saturday, 3 December 2011 and in the words of my colleague, John Treat, it is now de-funked, which may go some way towards debunking the myth that international NGOs (INGOs) are capable of hijacking the occupy idea. That is something we should all be very grateful for.

    And that is pretty much where I feel we can leave this blog as it seems that my assertion that NGOs and other movements in civil society will try to co-opt and cannibalise the ideals and methods of occupy for their current agendas was in fact prescient – but, I feel that maybe I am being too harsh on the people and processes in SA. And there is good reason to be kinder to our levels of (dis)organisation and the nuances of our political history which make engagements with the SA government a challenge fraught with tensions and high-drama instead of a simple critical intellectual engagement and consensus building on moving forward.

    The how and why we are here mired in this stalemate is the subject of not just another blog but of several issuances from academics to cartoonists, locally and across the know universe. Yet, we as people of this nation and across all sectors seem unwilling to be brave enough to change or are too content with this divided society we are building. Or maybe it is simply that we do not care enough about how we work or fail to. Almost all conversations with locals and visitors alike tend to lead back to the question of leadership and lack thereof among civil society organisations as the key weakness in our ability to engage critically and effectively with government. And I tend to agree, though I still hold that the concept of an apex representative structure for civil society that is recognised by government is not just outmoded but also potentially harmful to the growth of ideas that manifest as ideals and changes to the stark poverty and inequality in SA. But going back to agreeing with the notion that there is a lack of leadership in the sector and what some sober and principled leadership can achieve: for a start it may help with my desire to see a better engagement process than the current hobbled together rigmarole of government doing things, civil society organisations responding negatively to it and inevitably a court process to find a better solution. I find it baffling that, in a country with a globally lauded Constitution and a rich pool of intellectual talent, we are seemingly constantly finding ourselves at loggerheads with each other over things that, at first glance at least, seem pretty obvious or common sense. A good example is the demands around climate secrets by Right2Know and while the demands themselves make for interesting reading, the fact that we must demand these things, seems to me that the ideals of the Freedom Charter are somehow being lost in this transition to a form of capitalist sanctioned democracy we are building… but maybe that is a blog for another day.
    The march on 3 December was a great show of both strength and courage from a range of people and organisations not willing to be boxed into corners by a government that is increasingly moving further right in the way it treats its people. The use of what Rehad Desai calls the “Green Bombers” to intimidate other allegedly anti-government civil society groups was an appalling act of machismo and it is worth reading Rehad’s post about the incident on Facebook.

    I am reminded of the outburst from former President Thabo Mbeki about the ‘ultra-leftists’ and how perceptions of political allegiance and positioning are really just perspectives. Maybe Mbeki did not realise how far right he had moved and thus some people did seem to him to be ultra left. Which is pretty much where we seem to be going with the COP17 process. The current deal period is about to expire in 2012 and with no deal here in Durban, it just means that we will have to deal with what is left, instead of doing what is right.

    - Rajesh Latchman is the Coordinator of the National Welfare Forum, Volunteer Convenor of GCAP South Africa, guerrilla gardener, cyclist and an unreformed recycler. He writes in his personal capacity.

  • An Askew View of COP17

    Notes from the seaside

    Daybreak in Durban was the usual muggy warmth that seems to seep into every pore of your skin just as perspiration is trying to seep out, leaving you feeling grubby and damp and taking three showers before 10am…but that is a waste of water (which is thankfully being recycled) so let’s not dwell here in this damp spot and rather move on to occupying Durban and more specifically occupying the climate change talks…

    At 11am, bright and early saw the start of the Conference of People (CoP) General Assembly at Speaker’s Corner just across the street from the heavily barricaded International Convention Centre (ICC), site of the official, formal and much derided 17th Conference of Parties (COP17).

    About a hundred people gathered here on this little triangular island and it took me about 10 minutes to work out that about half of them were media folk – obviously looking for something slightly higher up the heart rate monitor than the talks going on inside the International Conference Centre (ICC). I am not so sure they did in fact find it but at least the people here looked more colourful than the grey suited clones streaming into the ICC. I often wonder how people who have such a dull dress sense (and a clear lack of style) can even begin to think creatively about how we can build a just global climate treaty, but maybe that is a blog for another day.

    At speakers corner, thankfully, there was no tie and dye to be seen, though there were a couple of headbands and some level of slightly dishevelled hair on people, and they did all smell remarkably clean and there was no shortage of designer labels on clothes and shoes or the cameras either…it is good to see occupy in Durban being led by well-dressed people with tidy hairstyles and a sense of good taste in their clothes too, though it would be awesome to see some real style in the dress sense. It was a wonderful relief to see some people from the ambush turn up in their pseudo prison garb and hopefully tomorrow they will ambush the space and plant some bright and useful plants to help occupy people to live off the land if they choose to stay in Speaker’s Corner for a few years.

    So, what was said and done? Well pretty much what has been said for a while about the whole climate change debacle – too much emissions, too much reliance on fossil fuels, too much waste, too much corporate power, too much collusion of governments with corporations and of course, too much negation of traditional ways of living in harmony with the world and it’s people. All good then, and in reality, not stuff that many people walking past on their way to find jobs or get lunch or just meandering aimlessly would happily agree with…but and this is a but of rather large proportions – that virtually none of the people walking past bothered to stay and join the occupation… admittedly, some did stop and check out the occupy action – but given the lack of free t-shirts, lunch or other forms of simple but effective bribery – none stayed to occupy in solidarity with the occupiers...which is a pity.

    So the main outcome of the assembly was to hold an assembly each day – in the same space and develop some sort of way of distributing more information about the occupation and hopefully gathering more people to the space. While it may look like a damp squib (and INGO heavy) start to a Durban occupation, there is hope that tomorrow, a whole bunch of slightly more excited people will rock up and help grow the occupy seedling in Speaker’s Corner.

    I will do my best to stay on top of this rapidly changing and always on the go occupation and I hope you will follow this occupation and tell the two friends you know in Durban to come join us…it should at least be a great way to meet well dressed international NGO types, if nothing else...

    - Rajesh Latchman is the Coordinator of the National Welfare Forum, Volunteer Convenor of GCAP South Africa, guerrilla gardener, cyclist and an unreformed recycler. He writes in his personal capacity.

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