Pollution

SAHRC: Medical Waste Incinerator Violates Rights

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has found that EnviroServ’s regional medical waste incineration facility in Bloemfontein compromises community members’ right to a clean environment.
 
The SAHRC investigated after residents complained that the company’s incinerator has been billowing out large volumes of smoke during the day and night for the past two years.
 
The commission argues that as a result, the air in the area is polluted, affecting the health of residents in the area.
 

Govts Urged to Curb Air Pollution

If South Africa implements the World Health Organisation's landmark resolutions on air pollution, the government will have to take action against polluting companies, including Eskom.
 
After discussing air pollution for the first time at the World Health Assembly, the United Nations' health body adopted resolutions intended to counter the world's most serious single environmental health risk.
 

Agreement to Limit Carbon Emissions

The United States and China have agreed to limit carbon emissions, but the move might only be enough to save developed countries in the North.

Under an agreement, the United States will reduce its emissions by a quarter by 2025 and China will reach a maximum in its emissions by 2030, cap them, and then decrease them.

At the signing ceremony, President Barack Obama said: “As the world’s largest economies and greatest emitters of greenhouse gases, we have a special responsibility to lead the global effort against climate change.”

Activists Call Action on Climate Change

Activists concerned about climate change have delivered a petition on ‘climate justice demands’ to government officials at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

The gathering, which comes ahead of the upcoming United Nations climate summit to be held in New York next week, saw climate and energy campaigners of groups such as local climate movement 350Africa, Greenpeace and Right2Know Campaign dancing and waving placards containing the slogans ‘We Fight Climate Change’, ‘No More Coal’, and "Clean Energy Now’.

Fracking Debate Set to Take New Tone

The Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) would keep an open mind on claims that shale gas may prove a ‘game changer’ for the local economy.
 
In a press statement, TKAG chief executive director, Jonathan Deal, says if the claims are correct, they could be validated by scientific investigation, and a thorough cost-benefit analysis in which science could inform policy.
 
Deal states that the TKAG opposes licensing shale gas exploration, a process that involves hydraulic fracturing, also called fracking.
 

Court Urged to Halt ‘Illegal’ Smelter

The environmental activist grouping, Earthlife Africa, had asked the Gauteng High Court to halt smelting operations at the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA) Pelindaba plant on the grounds that they were illegal.

The organisation, which wants the smelter to shut down, argues that the possibility exists that it could be turned to commercial use which would result in South Africa becoming ‘a nuclear waste junkyard’.

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.

Fracking May Destroy SA Water

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) says South Africa’s intention to go ahead with shale gas exploration and more coal mining could have a devastating effect on South Africa's water supply.

In a press statement, WWF fresh water programme senior manager, Christine Colvin, states that critical water production areas and water systems are being threatened by coal mining.

Colvin adds: "The explosion of shale gas exploration in the Karoo will similarly disrupt the social fabric of this fragile area and we do not have clarity on how negative impacts will be dealt with."

IPCC Urges ‘Faster Action’ on Global Warming

The United Nations (UN) says faster action is needed to keep global warming to agreed limits and delays until 2030 could force reliance on technologies to extract greenhouse gases from the air.
 
In its latest report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which drew on the work of more than 1 000 experts, says a shift from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy such as wind, solar or nuclear power was affordable and will shave only about 0.06 percent point a year off world economic growth.
 

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