This weekend there was solidarity across the planet, when 2000 Climate Marches took place in preparation for the Paris climate conference, COP 21 happening this week. There heads of states get to decide about our future and the role out of the most important story of our time: Our planet in peril.
Today starts a series of important meetings in Paris.
Will there be serious, far-reaching, binding agreements that can radically turn this ship around from its destructive path? Sadly, civil society is not very hopeful. If the past is the best predictor of the future, then we will remain in trouble. And will need to intensify our work – hopefully more of you will join and add your energy and skills.
All the world governments have submitted their intentions to lower their contributions towards climate change gasses, called their INDCs. And if everyone holds their promises, then this planet will have to deal with more than 2 degrees increase in global average temperature. Guaranteed. Some might think that is OK. Not so for the world, much less so for Africa. Here you have to double the global average, so we have to prepare for over 4 degrees up. What would that look like?
The World Bank recently published research warning that the planet is charging towards a 4 degree increase by the end of the century. Turn the clock back for Africa, as for us it is much, much sooner. Around 2050 or even 2030. Right now it’s our best case scenario.
From the report, called Turn down the Heat by Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Climate Analytics:
“A 4 degree warmer world can, and must be, avoided – we need to hold warming below 2 degrees,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “Lack of action on climate change threatens to make the world our children inherit a completely different world than we are living in today. Climate change is one of the single biggest challenges facing development, and we need to assume the moral responsibility to take action on behalf of future generations, especially the poorest.”
The report says that the 4°C scenarios are potentially devastating:
the inundation of coastal cities;
increasing risks for food production leading to higher under and malnutrition rates;
many dry regions becoming dryer, wet regions wetter;
unprecedented heat waves
substantially exacerbated water scarcity in many regions;
increased intensity of tropical cyclones;
Irreversible loss of biodiversity, including coral reef systems.
In South Africa we are experiencing the consequences of the heating already. This week even the Cape Province was declared a disaster area due to the drought. So 7 out of 9 provinces in trouble. This leads to fires, which always go hand in hand with droughts. Soaring food prices – basics like wheat and maize, which leads to chickens, eggs, beef – most foods depend on basics in this country. Is this sufficient for our much distracted citizens to focus on this important issue?
Some might feel cushioned against such calamities as they turn up the air-conditioner, prepare for a lavishly consumerist Christmas, and simply up extensive food budgets. Not so for those with more humble footprints – those who don’t enjoy 3 to 6 planet lifestyles. Where is the justice in that? Even the middle class is feeling the pinch already. Jobs are lost, crime increases. Connect the dots.
“We need a global response equal to the scale of the climate problem, a response that puts us on a new path of climate smart development and shared prosperity. But time is very short,” says President Kim.
Cape Town's biggest climate march yet
In Cape Town over 1,500 marchers from all colours of our rainbow nation gathered at CPUT and listened to passionate environmental activists Peter Johnston from UCT, Nick King and David Le Page from Fossil Free SA, Thembeka Mjali and Mpumeleo Mhlalisi. There were performances by Wendy Oldfield with Lionel Bastos backing her love songs to the earth. Andile read his own poem, appealing to us to remember the earth.
Prayers from all faiths were done, before we set off towards Parliament. Drummers and cyclists lead the way and there was much singing and chanting. Faced by former president Jan Smuts on his horse a memorandum was to be handed over to the mayor, provincial premier and energy minister, endorsed by the COP 21 Climate Action NGO Alliance. This included AIDC, Avaaz, Project 90x2030, 350.org, SAFCEI, WESSA, Biomimicry SA, UCT’s Green Campus Initiative, WWF, Green Times, African Monitor and UNASA.
Sadly none of them pitched, but there were speeches on their behalf by mock parliamentarians with puppet faces. Lance Greyling from the Mayor’s office received the memorandum. He assured us of action towards clean energy in Cape Town.
Some of the key points in the documents being handed over are:
The need for South Africa to up its level of commitment to reducing dangerous Climate Change causing gases by moving more determinedly away from its reliance on fossil fuels. At present its pledges are deemed “insufficient.”
The need for the Western Cape to heed its own telling report on Climate Change impacts on the province by carefully re-evaluating policies related to land-use change, economic development and conservation of coastal, wetland and biodiversity rich areas.
The need for Cape Town to embrace the potential for all citizens to contribute to the electricity grid through small PV installations by revising policy that currently inhibits this
In an eerie reminder of a possible nuclear catastrophe, a senior Ukrainian energy official revealed that the attack on transmission towers that cut off the delivery of electricity from Ukraine to Crimea also created an emergency situation at nuclear power plants.
If everyone got free WiFi with every tree they planted, we wouldn’t have the problem of climate change.” This was the sentiment shared by renowned businessman, activist and sustainability advocate, Jochen Zeitz, at the 8th Annual Green Building Convention in Cape Town recently.
Imizamo Yethu residents who fell victim to a fire that razed numerous shacks and left families homeless a week ago are busy rebuilding their homes after getting some assistance from the City of Cape Town.
Humanitarian agencies could save millions of dollars and reduce carbon emissions, deforestation and violence if solar power and other clean energy sources were installed at refugee camps, according to a new analysis.
Die reën wat weerhaan verlede week sien kom, is maar swakkerig in die suide en suidwestelike gebiede van die land. Mens kan maar net hoop die bietjie bietjie wat aan die Natalse kus kan uitsak, verhang die krieketbordjies daar.
Grey Crowned Cranes have undergone a long-term large scale population decline of up to 80% over the past 45 years. They are econic, charismatic flagships for Southern and East Africa’s grasslands and wetlands.
Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront is soon to launch the installation of more than 7500 square metres of solar panels on eight rooftops of key buildings, as the landmark property expands its emphasis on going green.
Hunters from the United States and South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) were meeting behind closed doors at a resort near Polokwane recently, to plan the future use of Africa’s wildlife. No media was invited.
If you’re not feeling like sex when it’s too darn hot, you’re not alone. Latest research into human fertility and temperature extremes reveals that birthrates suffer a fall nine months after extreme temperatures events.
Corn producers desperate for rain and already in record debt will implore the government to provide guarantees for new bank loans as the worst drought in 23 years leaves farmers short of collateral before the new planting season.
South Africa will be able to take some of the credit if the world takes effective steps to limit climate change at the 2015 United Nations Climate Conference (COP21) in Paris from 30 November to 11 December.