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Dear *|NAME|*

Everyone wants good news. This year has tested our resilience to uncomfortable truths. Now, since almost 200 nations agreed on intentions to cut carbon emissions to limit warming to below 2C, some feel it’s time to party.

In the biggest act of solidarity ever on this planet we participated in one of 2500 climate marches across the world. In Cape Town all environmental NGOs worked together. Amidst the shadow hanging over our civilisation, some good things are unfolding. It is unifying us around a common cause. Even in SA we can finally drop our differences. For unlike any other divisive causes here is one issue that knows no boundaries. There is only one ship and we all need a ticket.

Here are the words of my young fellow marcher Andile Mngoma, Chairman of the UCT Green Campus Initiative:

At last climate change had shifted to the top of the world agenda, for a few days. The world was finally paying attention to the crisis. This special COP21 issue brings you much of the details. The new agreement is certainly the best we have had so far. People have had inspired responses to this historical agreement.  Paris produced an agreement hailed as “historic, durable and ambitious.”

“Like any international compromise, it is not perfect: the caps on emissions are still too loose, likely to lead to warming of 2.7 to 3C above pre-industrial levels, breaching the 2C threshold that scientists say is the limit of safety, beyond which the effects – droughts, floods, heat waves and sea level rises – are likely to become catastrophic and irreversible. Poor countries are also concerned that the money provided to them will not be nearly enough to protect them. Not all of the agreement is legally binding, so future governments of the signatory countries could yet renege on their commitments,” reported the Guardian.

“It’s a fraud really, a fake,” says James Hansen, the father of climate change. “It’s just bullshit for them to say: ‘We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.’ It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will continue to be burned.” According to him the international jamboree is pointless unless greenhouse gas emissions aren’t taxed across the board. He argues that only this will force down emissions quickly enough to avoid the worst ravages of climate change.

Andile Mngoma, Chairman of the UCT Green Campus Initiative with our editor Elma Pollard.
“While the Paris agreement would go into effect in 2020, science tells us that in order to meet the global goal of limiting warming to 1.5C or well below 2C, emissions must peak before 2020 and sharply decline thereafter. The current pledges will provide about half of what is needed, leaving a 12 to 16 gigatonne emissions gap.” Tasneem Essop, head of WWF delegation to the UN climate talks.

Intention is indeed nothing unless it is followed by action. So now that is the crucial next step. What exactly is going to be done to stop the warming fast? “As climate impacts worsen around the world, we need to seize on the current momentum and usher in a new era of cooperative action from all countries and all levels of society.” – Samantha Smith

Meantime we sit with extreme weather and people suffering across the planet. The mighty Orange River has stopped flowing at the weir in Aliwal North. The 2 dams supplying Maclear are dry. What are the consequences?

From an economic perspective the impact of the drought will be that crop farmers are not planting or have planted and these crops have failed. There is unlikely to be winter feed planted. Stock farmers are selling off all non-breeding animals, however prices are very low as the country is dumping stock at present. Some farmers will start to sell breeding stock or slaughter (or they will start to die) if they can no longer afford to feed their animals. This means that the farmer will take at least 5 to 10 years to get back to the stock levels they have at present. This will have a knock on effect on the economy of this district, because while agriculture is not a major economic activity the farmer and his staff are all income earners and they support the trade activities. Trade will decrease. It is likely that farmers will not be able to employ as many staff and this will increase the indigent in urban areas.

Drought in Australia, with resultant bush fires in Victoria – 10 homes lost already. One person dead and nine others injured after an avalanche buried about 10 houses on the Svalbard archipelago in the heart of the Norwegian Arctic. Philippines storm death toll hits 35 as rains threaten to worsen flooding. Torrential rains in Cumbria … Typhoon Nina paralysed central Philippines… Typhoon Melor .. Sydney storms.

Ruben Swart, web admin for The Green Times. Photo by Mark Reitz

So where is the light at the end of the tunnel? How to face all of this and not get despondent? My advice is always to stop fearing your feelings. Why are we so obsessed with the positive? Is this not one of the main reasons why we are in trouble? People are scared of getting depressed, so they either avoid the truth, or allow it to come in one ear, out the other. Not to be moved, seems to be the motto.

Those who are not in mourning for a planet in crisis are probably disassociated, is my latest insight. However, those who are present to their feelings also find that there is movement. We feel with and for the suffering, which means we are connected and we care. And we respond to the call with heart. How that will take us forward, we don’t know. But that we are able to dig deep and grow through this experience is sure.

Now to celebrate the festive season, and our biggest capitalist rush ever – Christmas. For 24 years I have done green Christmas stories. With my learning of this year it was time to draw a line in the sand: We are having our first No Gift Christmas. Our family are our gifts …moving deeper to the sacred meaning of the festival … giving thanks to the Earth for sustaining us for another year, at great cost and sacrifice to herself. Indeed, new life is what we are praying for now. Life with reverence – with appreciation for the imperfect and for impermanence. The path of Wabi Sabi. Finding growth in loss.

I honour you for travelling with us this year and for your courage and care. Thank you. May we all rest, recharge and return to the grindstone with new vigour and inspiration for the great work ahead.

With love

Elma and the team

PS. Remember to keep up with the green events on our calendar and lots more news on our Facebook page.

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Moving beyond the fossil fuel era

“We are living in a historic moment. We are seeing the start of a global transition towards renewable energy. At the same time, we’re already witnessing irreversible impacts of climate change," said Samantha Smith, leader of WWF’s global climate and energy initiative, on the COP21 Paris agreement.

Say ‘no’ to food waste this festive season

The festive season, with all its glorious food is with us!

Indigenous people: the guardians of our forests

Indigenous groups from Indonesia, Malaysia, and China were among the 21 global communities to receive a US$10,000 award and recognition for their conservation efforts in Paris.

An important time of year to be mindful of waste

During the excitement of the holidays, it’s easy to forget about the extra waste generated and its impact on landfills.

Monsanto to face tribunal for ecocide and crimes against humanity

Dozens of farming, sustainable food, and environmental justice groups have announced they will bring insidious agrochemical giant Monsanto to trial for charges of ecocide and crimes against humanity.

Paris climate agreement the world’s greatest diplomatic success


In the final meeting of the Paris talks on climate change on Saturday night, the debating chamber was full and the atmosphere tense.

Paris talks a fraud, says climate change founder James Hansen


Mere mention of the Paris climate talks is enough to make James Hansen grumpy.

More immediate steps needed for effective climate action


World governments finalized a global agreement in Paris on Sunday that lays a foundation for long-term efforts to fight climate change.

Adaptation is key if Africa is to tackle climate change


The current and projected severe impacts of climate change in Africa make adaptation an urgent priority.

SA only country allowing GM staple food


The maize fields that cover the country with a golden and green blanket may look the same as they always have but now it is very different.

First ever security resolution to recognise important role of youth

The UN Security Council has adopted a historic resolution on youth, peace and security, which will focus on the role of young men and women in peacebuilding and countering violent extremism.

Nearly 200 nations sign in end of fossil fuel era


After 20 years of fraught meetings, including the two weeks spent in an exhibition hall outside Paris, nearly 200 countries have committed to a universal agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The Paris paradox


Guerilla art group Brandalism’s new project in Paris exposes some uncomfortable truths and a paradox that lies at the heart of the Paris talks: That businesses and governments are both the problem and the solution.

Making peace with the earth


The tragedy of 13th November 2015 in Paris calls on all of humanity to respond to the escalating and vicious cycles of violence by creating virtuous circles of peace.

WESSA graduates say “YES” to greener futures


Over 100 enthusiastic young participants of the Department of Environmental Affairs’ YES Programme are equipped to pursue careers in the green economy after their graduation ceremony in Caledon last week.

Climate smart agriculture remains key to Africa’s Development


How will African farmers cope with climate change, become more resilient and ensure food security?

What are the ACTUAL impacts of climate change on SA’s environment?


A group of South African scientists have presented radical evidence of fundamental changes in African ecosystems, which threaten the future of our savannas and their wildlife.

UK government criticized over delayed flood response


The UK government’s spending on flood defences has come under criticism after it emerged that a prevention scheme for the Cumbrian town of Kendal was repeatedly postponed.

Climate coalition pushes for binding and ambitious deal in Paris


A coalition representing more than 100 countries, formed in secrecy six months ago, has emerged at key UN talks in Paris to push for a legally binding global and ambitious deal on climate change.

COP21: call for international treaty on rights of nature and communities


A new movement has been launched at COP21 in Paris to give legal effect to the rights of nature and communities.

Sri Lanka to be first nation in the world to protect all its mangroves


More than half the world’s mangroves have been lost over the last century but all of those surviving in Sri Lanka, one of their most important havens, are now to be protected in an unprecedented operation.

The real divisions over climate change


As the world faces catastrophic climate change, the bigger fight is not just between “developed countries” and “developing countries” or between “big polluters” and “the people.”

Cigarette butt bins to curb toxic beach pollutant


Toxic cigarette butts are one of the top ten pollutants on our beaches and entering the marine environment.

Oil & gas prospecting revealing a bleak future for SA oceans


How will our oceans cope with the oil and gas prospective plans? We may boast sustainable fisheries, but oil & gas prospecting is revealing a bleak future for our oceans.

Botswana sells fracking rights in national park


The Botswana government has quietly sold the rights to frack for shale gas in one of Africa’s largest protected conservation areas, it has emerged.

Paris climate summit: UK under fire on climate policy


Environmentalists say the UK government is talking impressively on climate change to its international audience, but down-grading energy policy at home.

Coalition of business leaders challenges 2C climate change target

A group of high-profile business leaders has challenged governments to set strong targets and not slam the door on limiting warming to 1.5C.

65 organizations looking for marine litter solutions


Plastic packaging is a huge contributor to marine litter. Now the plastics industry has created a Global Declaration for Solutions to Marine Litter.

Corporations ‘on trial’ before People’s Court of Mother Nature


In the city of Marie-Antoinette, the Paris Commune and the guillotine, some of the world’s biggest corporations will go on trial before a “People’s Court of Mother Nature”, chaired by a South African attorney.

Patti Smith, Thom Yorke and Flea rock Pathway to Paris concert


Can the voices of some of alternative music's most socially aware musicians give voice to the emergency of climate change and the desperate hope in Paris for a meaningful climate treaty?

‘Red line’ issue exposes deep divisions in Paris climate talks

Buried in the detail of the Paris Accord could be some innocuous-looking words that will have a powerful impact on whether it ever delivers the greenhouse gas reductions it promises.

Paris climate talks: what difference will temperature rises really make?

Without action, climate scientists have warned that temperatures could rise by nearly 5C above pre-industrial levels by 2100.

Officials reach global climate change draft agreement


Negotiators from 195 countries agreed Saturday on a blueprint deal aimed at reducing global carbon emissions and limiting global warming.

Racing Extinction: “Half of all species will be gone in 100 years”


The man behind the Oscar-winning film The Cove is back with a new eco-thriller that goes undercover to document the plight of endangered animals.

Threat of running out of oxygen due to warming oceans


Falling oxygen levels caused by global warming could be a greater threat to the survival of life on planet Earth than flooding, according to researchers from the University of Leicester.

The point of no return: climate change nightmares are already here


Historians may look to 2015 as the year when shit really started hitting the fan.

Fighting for gender equality and climate justice in Bangladesh


Thanks to socio-cultural factors women in Bangladesh are more vulnerable to climate change and not looked after by their government.

China’s about-face on climate change


China has become one of the countries to watch at this week’s Paris conference. They have made a hard pledge on peaking carbon emissions and have ever more ambitious targets on installing renewables.

COP21: Pacific islanders swallow bitter pill


Up to 70% of Pacific Island dwellers would have to migrate due to climate change. This was said at COP21 earlier this month.
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