• Future of Planet at Stake, Warns UN

    United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, has warned climate talks that failure to overcome deadlock place the world in peril, even as scientists warned delegates to face up to the facts of climate change.

    Ban’s call comes at the time when Achim Steiner, executive secretary of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said that, "Climate change is defined by science and scientific realities, not by politics, political expediency and political impacts."

    Steiner, who handed a copy of UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report to International Relations Deputy Minister, Ebrahim Ebrahim, also warned that in the last year, the gap between what the world needs to achieve in terms of reducing carbon emissions and what it is likely to achieve has grown.

    To read the article titled, “The future of the planet is at stake, warns UN chief,” click here.

    Mail & Guardian
  • Ministers at COP17 Deserve Oscars – NGOs

    Environmental NGOs have lambasted government ministers involved in climate change negotiations, arguing that they should all be awarded Oscars for their acting.

    Greenpeace International’s Tove Ryding, led the call, saying that governments are creating theatre out of the climate talks.

    Ryding points out that these ministers should get Oscars for acting like they are being asked to do something very hard, adding that, "This poker game is endangering the whole globe."

    In the same vein, WWF International, Samantha Smith, says that it is shameful that some parties are jumping out of the Kyoto Protocol as this time.

    To read the article titled, “Ministers at COP17 deserve Oscars, say NGOs,” click here.

    Mail & Guardian
  • High-Level Talks Begin at COP17

    World leaders and government ministers start their top level climate talks at COP17, amid warnings that a breakthrough agreement is unlikely.

    Twelve heads of state and 130 ministers are set to attend the high-level segment of the conference, which begins later today, and deals with extending the carbon-emission limits established by the Kyoto Protocol in 1998.

    The world's biggest polluters - the United States, China and India - are not part of Kyoto and the conservatives argue that any agreement that does not include the major emitters is meaningless.

    To read the article titled, “Crunch time at COP17 as high-level negotiations begin,” click here.

    Mail & Guardian
  • Greenpeace Activists Arrested at COP17

    Seven Greenpeace campaigners have been arrested on the sidelines of the United Nations climate conference as they protest against corporate responsibility for carbon emissions.

    The six were detained as they tried to hang a banner reading ‘Listen to the People, not the Polluters’ at a Durban hotel where a ‘Global Business Day’, hosted by business organisations, was taking place.

    The protest was aimed at a so-called ‘Dirty Dozen’ corporations which Greenpeace says are pulling political strings to stifle progress toward a global climate deal.

    To read the article titled, “Greenpeace activists arrested at COP17,” click here.

  • International: Women, Climate Change and Migration

    The dramatic changes to weather patterns as a result of climate change will have dire consequences on agriculture, the major source of food and income for Africa’s small scale farmers, the majority of whom are women.

    Millions of people will be forced to migrate as they seek better living environments to sustain themselves and their families as the land becomes unproductive. Not enough is being done in national adaptation strategies to acknowledge the different gender dimensions of climate change and migration.

    Take for instance the crisis in the Horn of Africa. On 20 July 2011, the United Nations declared famine in two regions of Southern Somalia. Many fled their homes to other parts of Somalia while others fled to neighbouring Ethiopia and Kenya. We all saw on television the horrific images of helpless Somali mothers watching their children dying.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated in 1990 that “The single greatest impact of climate change might be on migration”. The IPCC further mentioned that millions of people could be displaced by shoreline erosion, coastal flooding and agricultural disruption.

    Women are disproportionally affected by climate change. Their ability to escape these challenges is limited compared to men because of their dual role as providers of income and caretakers to their families.

    Migration may be temporarily caused by natural disasters, or permanent, due to irreversible damage to the environment. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), droughts and natural disasters displaced 42 million people in 2010.

    It is projected that by 2050, there will be even more ‘environmental refugees’ in the world. Professor Norman Myers of Oxford University predicts that ”When global warming takes hold, there could be as many as 200 million people overtaken by disruptions of monsoon systems and severe droughts caused by rising sea levels.”

    Although women and men are both likely to migrate to urban areas and experience the same difficulties in finding employment, housing and social services, women are also likely to experience gender-based discrimination.

    On one hand, from a social and economic standpoint, rural women could be more empowered and given more autonomy when men go to urban areas to seek better opportunities. On the other hand, Professor Sylvia Chant of the London School of Economics notes that “Women may not be able to take major decisions over household production or livelihoods in the home village itself without first obtaining permission from their absent partners or his natal kin.”

    It is distressing that there has been a failure to fully acknowledge that women are most vulnerable to sexual violence and other forms of gender-based violence due to forced migration. Illegal border crossing, whether in boats or on foot, presents many safety risks to those involved, including loss of life, robbery as well as rape. Fleeing from droughts and going to stay in refugee camps also exposes women to sexual abuse.

    Dr. Erick Ventura of IOM notes that a number of factors will contribute to a better understanding and handling of forced migration as a result of climate change. This includes capacity building through improved knowledge, preparedness and emergency interventions as well as assisted return for migrants. There is also a need for improvement in border management and more coherent and comprehensive migration policies that recognise that migration is not always voluntary.

    Women and men fleeing natural and environmental disasters do so not because they want to, but because they are seeking a better life for themselves and their families. Awareness at policy making levels that climate change and migration are not gender neutral will go a long way in ensuring that ‘climate refugees’ are treated in a more appropriate and inclusive manner.

    - Ticha Tsedu is an intern at Gender Links. This article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service and African Woman and Child Feature Service special series for the Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Violence and COP17 Conference.
    Gender Links
  • SA Criticised Over Coal Investments

    The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) says that with South Africa’s investment into Eskom’s new Kusile and Medupi coal-fired powered stations, it is clear that coal will continue to be a large part of our energy supply. The WWF delegation had this to say at the 17th Conference of Parties (COP17), which started from 28 November and will end on 9 December 2011 in Durban.

    To watch the video, refer to

    Mail & Guardian
  • Reservations About Green Climate Fund

    Some Latin American countries, the United States and Saudi Arabia have voiced reservations about signing off on the Green Climate Fund.

    These reservations broke the broad consensus that the draft fund, while imperfect, could be adopted and operational soon after next year’s talks, in Qatar.

    Developed nations have pledged US$100bn a year to the fund by 2020, but many are balking at actually putting money into the fund to help developing nations pay for their adaptation and mitigation actions.

    To read the article titled, “COP17: Reservations arise about sign-off of climate fund,” click here.

    Business Day
  • COP17 Threatened by Kyoto Pullout

    Negotiators and NGOs have warned that a Canadian pullout of the Kyoto Protocol would badly damage a United Nations climate process already weakened by divisions.

    Spokesperson for the 54-nation Africa Group in the UN forum, Seyni Nafo, points out that for countries that are historically responsible for the problem to explicitly back out would undermine the process and the credibility of what delegates are trying to do.

    Nafo warned that it will be difficult to ask India and China to do more when Canada pulls out of the Kyoto Protocol.

    To read the article titled, “COP17 talks under threat by Kyoto pullout,” click here.


  • Africa Embarks on New Environmental Path

    The Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, says that hosting the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) on the African continent offers an opportunity to work on a future of sustainable development.

    Molewa states that Africa has contributed least to the build-up of greenhouse gases globally, but will be in the front line of the adverse effects of climate change.

    She further states that the continent is highly dependent on climate-sensitive sectors such as rain-fed agriculture, adding that combined with the severe development challenges it already faces, this makes Africans particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

    To read the article titled, “COP17: Time for Africa to Embark on a new environmental path,” click here.

    Business Day
  • COP17 Delegates Urged to Find Solutions

    Minister of International Relations Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has asked some 15 000 delegates to do more than just spout hot air during the two-week COP17 climate change conference in Durban.

    Nkoana-Mashabane urged that participating countries needed to display a level of 'maturity' in coming up with solutions.

    The city is gloomily being touted as the graveyard for the Kyoto Protocol, the globe's most significant treaty on climate change, first adopted in 1997 in Japan, a perception that Nkoana-Mashabane, as president of the 17th edition of the UN climate change conference, desperately wants to dispel.

    To read the article titled, “Half-baked forecast for climate talks,” click here.

    Times Live
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