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Africa: Time for Climate Justice
Dec 13, 2012 (121213)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
The latest international conference on climate change has
concluded in Doha, with the predictable "low-ambition"
results. Meanwhile, reports proliferate on the
disastrous consequences for Africa and the entire planet
if governments do not begin to overcome their lethargy in
slowing carbon emissions and preparing for adaptation to
the changes from global warming already built into the
The latest reports from the Global Carbon Project on CO2
Emissions for 2011 (http://tinyurl.com/b8kjncx) show that
China, with 9.1 gigatons, has already surpassed the
United States (5.4 gigatons) and the European Union (3.6
gigatons) in total emissions. The United States remains
the leading carbon polluting country per capita, with
17.1 tons per capita compared to 7.2 for the European
Union and 6.7 per China. Among African countries, most
with low total and per capita emissions, South Africa
(with 10.2 tons per capita) surpasses the European Union,
and even its total of 0.52 gigatons is only slightly less
than that of Germany (0.74 gigatons).
While the historical responsibility for global warming
clearly lies with the industrialized countries, the need
for urgent action applies to all countries, including
African countries, newly industrializing giants such as
China and India as well as the industrial West, both in
terms of national interest and in the interest of the
Before governments will act, however, more and more
activists are concluding, there must be a quantum leap in
visible public demand for action. One hope for such a
change may lie in the rapidly growing movement for
divestment from fossil fuel companies. At U.S.
universities, a divestment movement, launched in
November, is already active at more than 100 campuses,
and is looking to the history of the anti-apartheid
movement for precedents.
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains several recent
articles on practical actions that can be taken to work
against global warming and for climate change in Africa:
a statement from the African Climate Justice Alliance
released in late November, a summary of the 350.org
campaign for divestment from fossil fuels, an article
from the Madison, Wisconsin newspaper The Isthmus on
links being made by current activists with the antiapartheid
divestment campaign (including quotes from an
interview with the AfricaFocus editor), and a short
report on a new study from the World Future Council on
how feed-in tariffs can be used to promote more rapid
growth of renewable energy in Africa.
This Bulletin also includes at the end a selection of
additional links to a number of new reports stressing the
devastating scientific predictions and the urgency for
action on climate change, in contrast to the lethargic
response of the international and national political
systems to the issue.
For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on climate change and
the environment, visit
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++
Africa must not sign a suicide pact at Doha
Pan African Climate Justice Alliance
2012-11-28, Issue 608
The solutions for avoiding climate disaster pursued by
rich Western nations cannot effectively address the
crisis. African civil society organizations want
developed countries to accept responsibility.
Doha, Qatar, 28-11-2012: African civil society
representatives attending the 18th Conference of Parties
of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Doha,
Qatar, coalescing under the Pan African Climate Justice
Alliance set out their concerns and demands at the
conference on Tuesday setting out some key demands they
expect to come from the meeting.
This is amidst signs of business as usual in the
negotiations. The views and demands of African Civil
Society, coming together under the auspices of PACJA were
made clear at two press conferences organized by PACJA.
This was unprecedented and only a demonstration of the
extent to which the Alliance is not only frustrated at
the character and pace of negotiations but also its
resolve to push for the agenda of the many vulnerable
citizens of the countries of the continent who stand to
suffer the most from the negative impacts of climate
The message highlighted current flaws in the multilateral
system of negotiation whose transparency is inadequate,
allows for the pursuit of lase solutions such as through
carbon markets and ignores the historical obligation to
compensate those least responsible yet hardest hit by
impacts of an increasingly warming Mother Earth.
In addition, the Alliance called for serious attention to
the disproportionate nature of the impacts of climate
change on men and women in low income countries and that
this should be reflected in decisions made at Doha,
particularly in the means for adaptation.
At a press conference, the African CSOs push that
developed countries should acknowledge that they have
used their own fair share of earth atmospheric space and
must take measures to reduce domestic emissions.
They demanded that the developed countries should finance
and transfer technology to enable Africa to follow a less
polluted path without compromising development.
They equally demanded that compensation for the adverse
effects of the historical and current per-capita emission
that burden Africans with the rising climate-related
adaptation costs and damages.
Lost opportunities should be paid for and technology
transfer should be at no cost.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change, UNFCC, came into force in 1994 and the Conference
of Parties, COP, to the UNFCC has been meeting annually
to assess progress in dealing with climate change.
The COP (supreme body of the convention and associations
of countries that are party to the convention) serves as
Meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, CMP, whose
annual meeting incidentally coincides.
The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997 and legally binds
developed countries to emission reduction target.
But, the developed countries are putting intellectual
property rights ahead of technology transfer.
The CSOs from this position want to see a safe Africa
with a low carbon concentration in the atmosphere and
that global warming returns to below 1 degree Celsius
above per-industrial levels.
Africa opposes the global goal of less than 2 degrees for
the fact that this would be commensurate to incineration
and limiting modern development.
Recognizing the risk posed by climate change to food
security and the livelihood of our farmers and rural poor
communities, Africa wants to see atmospheric
concentration stabilize within a given time to safeguard
In this vein, Africa demands that the West protect and
compensate the poor by upholding the polluters must pay
principle while providing achievable solutions.
They wish that the outcome of Doha respect Africa's
These among many others is born out of the argument that
Africa bear the burden of climate change though
responsible for only 4 percent of the carbon emissions
while the developed world is responsible for about 70
percent of carbon emissions.
However, CSOs point that the scientific community has led
Africa to focus on the symptoms rather than the causes.
The rich countries propose goals that instead risk
suffering for Africa while offering insufficient
reduction and inadequate funding.
The fear is that instead of implementing the Koyto
protocol, the only legal binding instrument between the
developed countries (that have caused the problem) and
the developing countries (who never caused the problem),
developed countries are avoiding the protocol.
The US for example signed, never ratified and unsigned
the protocol thus pushing some countries to leave the
protocol as it would be favourable for them and their
economy. This is not fair for African countries, PACJA
African countries are calling for a change in the
production and consumption system that treats the earth
as a laboratory. As system is need where there is respect
for mother earth, he said.
For more information contact:
Mr Mithika Mwenda
Campaign Spreads to Over 100 Campuses!
Jamie Henn - November 29, 2012
[Text of article only. For this article with links
included, and additional resources, go to
Wow! We launched this new fossil fuel divestment campaign
this November 7 and in less than a month campaigns have
sprung up on over 100 colleges and universities across
the country. From big schools like the University of
Michigan to small liberal arts colleges like Amherst, the
idea of divestment is spreading like wildfire.
It's hard to keep up with everything that's going on
across the country, but here are a few updates from the
growing movement. Earlier this month, Unity College in
Maine became the first in the nation to meet our demands
and fully divest from fossil fuels (Hampshire College in
Massachusetts has also passed a sustainable investment
policy that effectively divests them from fossil fuels).
At Harvard, a student resolution supporting divestment
just passed with 72% of the vote and students are now
pushing to meet with President Faust about divestment.
Just north, UNH students will be delivering 1,000
signatures to their president today to call for a meeting
on divestment (they're already getting AP coverage for
the action). Down the coast, at Brown, students are also
rallying to today to push their administration to divest
Over in the midwest, students are calling on the Badgers
to divest and just published an editorial in the
University of Wisconsin's campus newspaper (more
editorials are popping up across the country, like this
one from Cornell). At University of Colorado in Boulder,
students are preparing for a big Do The Math tour stop
next week. And out in California, the five Claremont
colleges have banded together to push for divestment
across the system. Not to be outdone, the University of
California schools are also hard at work, joining with
our partners at the California Student Sustainability
Coalition to push for divestment.
The campaign has even made it up to Canada! Check out
this article from the McGill Daily about the student
effort there to divest from fossil fuels, especially the
dirtiest of dirty fuels, the Canadian tar sands. Speaking
of Tar Sands, earlier this month a group that included
some of the largest investors in the world, with over $2
trillion in assets between them, called the current
development of the tar sands environmentally
unsustainable and demanded immediate changes.
Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus rallies
another sell-out crowd at Do The Math and calls on
historically black colleges to divest from fossil fuels.
Off-campus, the divestment campaign is also heating up.
On the first day of our Do the Math tour, the Mayor of
Seattle announced that he would be looking into divesting
the city from fossil fuels. Not to be outdone, the Mayor
of Portland said that he could look into the matter as
well. Over in Vermont, there's already talk about
legislation to divest the state from fossil fuels.
We're also generating some great national media coverage.
Here's a piece from PRI's Living on Earth that profiles
efforts in Massachusetts. The Nation has been running a
great series covering the campaign, with lots of guest
posts from students. It's great to see Campus Progress
picking up the beat as well. Meanwhile, the Do the Math
tour is getting the spotlight in everywhere from Rolling
Stone to papers like the Seattle Times. Keep your eyes
out for some more big articles coming up. (Oh, and did we
mention that the tour stop in DC also included a 3,000
person rally against the Keystone XL pipeline? That was
With so much going on, it's been hard to keep up ??" and
we're still on the first month! As Bill is fond of saying
from the stage, this is still a David vs. Goliath fight:
the fossil fuel industry is the richest industry in the
history of the universe. That said, it's incredibly
inspiring to see things moving so quickly. And, remember
the story: David wins.
On we go!
Global warming activists with 350 Madison Climate Action
Team want to force change through UW divestment campaign
Taking cues from the anti-Apartheid movement
Joe Tarr on Wednesday 11/21/2012
When William Minter was a graduate student at UW-Madison
in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he was active in a
group pushing the university to sever connections with
companies doing business in South Africa, then under
Most activists at the time were focusing on the Vietnam
War, and the divestment campaign seemed trifling in
comparison. "People said, 'It's really not going to have
a lot of impact," Minter remembers. "The fact is, at
first it wasn't that great."
But over the next two decades, the movement slowly gained
force. Years after Minter left Madison, the UW did pull
its investments out of South Africa. And eventually the
economic pressure around the country helped topple the
Apartheid regime. In 1994, South Africa held fully
democratic elections that brought Nelson Mandela to
Now, a new group of student activists is using this model
in its efforts to force change on global warming. 350
Madison Climate Action Team is gearing up to pressure the
UW-Madison to withdraw investments from all companies
that cultivate oil, coal and natural gas.
"This is the issue of our generation," says Kevin Mauer,
a UW student involved with 350 Madison Climate Action
Team. "As students, the university is a very large
organization that we have special influence on."
"The university has been very good about operating in a
sustainable way," says Emmy Burns, another student
activist, referring to the school's efforts to reduce
waste and use energy efficiently. "But this is so much
bigger than that."
You'd think Bill McKibben would be a bit depressed. The
writer and activist has dedicated the last several years
of his life to drawing attention to the issue of global
warming, forming the national 350.org in 2008. The "350"
refers to the amount of carbon, in parts per million,
that scientists consider a safe maximum to avoid
catastrophic climate change. Yet this year, the amount of
carbon in the atmosphere reached 395 parts per million.
Despite this, the issue got almost no attention during
the presidential campaign from either major candidate.
"It's one of these situations where things keep getting
worse and worse," McKibben says. "We've raised the
temperature of the planet one degree, which means the
Arctic is now melting. Two degrees will be a lot worse.
If we go past that, it's going to be a science fiction
Yet, on the Friday after the presidential election,
McKibben sees reason for hope. For one thing, people
under 30 voted in record numbers; their votes alone
accounted for President Obama's reelection margin.
"We know in that age group, one of the biggest issues is
climate change, which makes sense," he says. "If you've
got another 60 years on this planet, it behooves you to
know the last 40 aren't going to suck."
McKibben also points to surveys that show 74% of the
country now believes global warming is a serious issue.
"That's more Americans than you can get to agree on
But McKibben - who speaks at the Masonic Center, 301
Wisconsin Ave., at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 29 - has
given up waiting for Washington to take action. He's
touring the country on a bus powered by alternative fuels
on his "Do the Math" tour. Using the South African
campaign as a model, McKibben is urging people to
pressure institutions to pull their investments from oil,
gas and coal companies.
These companies, he says, have in their reserves five
times the amount most governments believe it would be
safe to burn without causing catastrophic climate change.
"In other words, it's a rogue industry."
"We want the University of Wisconsin and all the other
colleges and churches and everyone else to sell their
stock in fossil fuel companies," McKibben says. "It's not
all right to be profiting from the wreckage of the
Two colleges, Unity College in Maine and Hampshire
College in Massachusetts, have so far heeded McKibben's
Burns and Mauer hope UW-Madison can be added to the list.
And they're using McKibben's visit to kick the campaign
off in earnest. The group is focusing its energies, for
now, on the UW Foundation, which is based in Madison. The
foundation has more than $2.5 billion in investments.
Mauer and Burns say they've been unsuccessful in trying
to meet with the foundation's stewards.
Mike Knetter, president and CEO of the foundation,
wouldn't comment in detail about the campaign or the
foundation's investments. "I haven't heard from them, so
I don't have any firsthand knowledge," he says. "There's
a lot of companies we don't invest in, but we make those
decisions one at a time."
The students don't know the precise amount of money the
foundation has invested in fossil fuel companies. Burns
says, "the language is pretty vague" regarding the
foundation's investments. But they know that some
foundation money is invested there. Its 2010 endowment
report (PDF) briefly mentions "oil and gas partnerships."
"It's frustrating because the foundation is completely
separate from the university," Burns says. "They don't
necessarily see accountability to students as a first
The national 350.org has identified about 200 companies
it is targeting in the campaign. McKibben hopes to
inspire people to act locally in the fight. "If you're a
student, you can put tremendous pressure on [your
university's] board of regents to sell that stock. It's a
good thing to change your light bulb, but a more
important thing to change the structure and the system."
Those involved in the South African divestment campaign
say that forcing social change takes a long time. Even
forcing stocks down "a penny," Minter says, involves
getting numerous universities to divest. But the
divestment campaign was successful not just because of
the economic pressure it eventually brought to bear on
South Africa, but because it helped build awareness.
"When you confront a university or a church, you say,
'You're contributing to a situation that is really bad,'"
Minter says. Connecting with those institutions educates
people about the problem, he says.
"The idea in going after companies is they were a symbol,
they were everywhere. It also gave people everywhere a
way to do something."
Minter is pleased to see a new divestment campaign
gearing up ??" and also happy to see it drawing
inspiration from the anti-Apartheid movement.
Now living in Washington, D.C., Minter edits the online
journal AfricaFocus, which examines issues facing the
continent. One of the most pressing issues currently, of
course, is global warming.
"The primary responsibility for global warming is that of
the rich companies in the developed counties," he says.
"The most vulnerable are those in the weakest economies.
And Africa is the most vulnerable continent."
New study: Feed-in Tariffs can unlock Africa's
untapped renewable energy potential
Press release - November 30, 2012
World Future Council, Heinrich Boell Foundation and
Friends of the Earth UK launch
comprehensive policy guide for African decision makers
Doha, Johannesburg, Hamburg, November 30 - A new report
for policy makers launched today by the World Future Council and the
Heinrich B??ll Foundation at the UN climate summit COP 18
in Doha, Qatar shows that Renewable Energy Feed-in
Tariff policies (REFiT) are a promising mechanism to
unlock the renewable energy development in Africa. REFiTs encourage investment in
renewable energy generation - from individual home owners and communities to big
companies - by guaranteeing to buy and pay for all the
electricity produced. When tailored to the local
context, such a policy can successfully increase overall energy
production in both on and off-grid areas.
Moreover, the decentralized nature of REFiTs allows for
alternative ownership and governance models and provides
the opportunity to empower communities as well as
revitalising local democracy and self-governance.
The report, which is also supported by Friends of the
Earth, provides an in-depth analysis of existing policies in 13 African countries:
Algeria, Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya,
Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa,
Tanzania and Uganda. The case studies examine the socio
economic effects of REFiTs and present and analyse both supportive and obstructive factors for
successful policy implementation. In addition, the report
identifies a variety of national and international
measures to shift financial resources towards renewable
energy uptake such as levies on fossil fuels or contributions from the United Nation's
Green Climate Fund.
Africa is facing an energy crisis since the growing
demand for electricity cannot be met by existing production capacity. The electricity needed
to power and grow the economy, drive local development
and tackle urban and rural poverty is simply not there.
In addition, traditional sources have become unreliable,
unaffordable or increasingly unacceptable. Energy has
been described as the 'missing millennium development
goal' that enables others to be achieved, yet according
to the World Bank less than 25% of Sub-Saharan households have access to electricity,
falling to 10% in rural areas.
Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariffs have been successful at
increasing the use of renewable technologies worldwide. As of 2012, 65
countries have implemented some form of a REFiT, driving
64% of global wind installations and 87% of global
photovoltaic installed capacity.
While the majority of these installations have occurred
in industrialised countries, particularly Europe, the
African continent has significant untapped renewable
"In finding a sustainable, affordable and reliable energy
solution to meet its needs, Africa has the opportunity to leapfrog the dirty
development pathways of industrialised countries," says
Ansgar Kiene, Director of the WFC Africa office. "This
study is a perfect guide for policy makers on how to achieve this shift.
Africa can power its economies and its societies through
renewable energy and it does not necessarily have to wait
for international agreements." "REFiTs are most successful as an integral part of a
country's wider development strategy" adds Patrick Berg of the Heinrich B??ll
Foundation. "Thus, high-level political
support as well as buy-in from civil society and the
private sector are crucial factors for the successful development and implementation of a
Notes to Editors:
A 16-page executive summary of the study can be
The full study is currently being finalized and will be available at the same link
before Christmas. High-resolution images illustrating the topic of
Renewable Energy in Africa can be downloaded at
Media Contacts / Interviews (English / German):
Ansgar Kiene, World Future Council, Director Africa
Office, Johannesburg, South Africa
Mobile : +49 1520 87 35 624, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ansgar Kiene is available in Doha, Qatar, until 1 Dec and
in Jo'burg from 3 Dec.
Patrick Berg, Heinrich Boell Foundation
Director Ethiopia Office
"Scientists Forecast Dramatic Temperature Increase"
Spiegel Online, Dec. 3, 2012
http://www.spiegel.de/ - direct URL:
International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook,
"Despite the growth in low-carbon sources of energy,
fossil fuels remain dominant in the global energy mix,
supported by subsidies that amounted to $523 billion in 2011, up
almost 30% on 2010 and six times more than subsidies to renewables."
"Carbon Pollution up to 2 million pounds a second," AP,
Dec. 2, 2012 On report from Center for International
Climate and Environmental Research
Global Carbon Project - latest estimates (for 2011) of
"Rich Countries Spend Five Times More on Fossil Fuel
Subsidies than on Climate Aid," Climate Progress, Dec. 3,
Oil Change International Fossil Fuel Subsidies Fact Page
New World Bank Report: Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4 degree
Warmer World Must be Avoided
"World Bank and Climate Change: Cloudy Forecast for
Policy Reform" Bretton Woods Project, Dec. 6, 2012
"A 'low ambition' outcome at Doha climate change
SouthNews, Dec. 10, 2012 http://tinyurl.com/cvsvd28
"To Stop Climate Change, Students Aim at College
Portfolios," New York Times, Dec. 5, 2012
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