Get AfricaFocus Bulletin by e-mail!
Format for print or mobile
Visit AfricaFocus Bookshop US |
Africa/Global: Postponing Climate Decisions
December 15, 2014 (141215)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
"It was not hard for me to make the connection between the tragedy
in Ferguson, Missouri, and the catalyst for my work to stop the
climate crisis. ... In the wake of the climate disaster that was
Hurricane Katrina almost ten years ago, I saw the same images of
police, pointing war-zone weapons at unarmed black people with their
hands in the air. ... When crisis hits, the underlying racism in our
society comes to the surface in very clear ways." - Deirdre Smith,
350.org, August 20, 2014
Not surprisingly, the "agreement" reached at the climate conference
in Lima was a least-common-denominator agreement to disagree. All countries agreed to
submit targets for emissions reduction by the end of the first
quarter of 2015, and the commitment for "common but differentiated
responsibilities was maintained. But specific decisions and
commitments were again postponed, for continued debate next year.
The 4-page text of the official agreement in Lima is available at
http://tinyurl.com/mnxhbn6 The much longer text (37 pages) of a
draft framework, with many options and hard-to-interpret alternative
wordings, is at http://tinyurl.com/q698a65
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains the text of "Southern Demands for
A Science-based, Just and Fair Sharing of Global Efforts to Confront
the Climate Crisis" (http://tinyurl.com/pfrqtyb), a clear statement
of goals which was prepared before the Lima climate summit and
endorsed by a large number of organizations from the Global South.
Also included are brief excerpts and links to full text of several
other recent articles of related interest, including the one by
Deirdre Smith quoted above and one this week making similar points
by Naomi Klein.
For talking points and links to previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on
climate and the environment, visit http://www.africafocus.org/envexp.php
Note: This is the last AfricaFocus Bulletin for 2014. Best wishes to
readers for the holiday season and the new year.
The Bulletin will resume in mid-January. AfricaFocus social media
will continue to be updated occasionally.
[AfricaFocus is regularly monitoring and posting links on
Ebola on social media. For additional links, see http://www.facebook.com/AfricaFocus]
Summing up the year is Time magazine naming of "The Ebola Fighters"
as person of the year. http://time.com/time-person-of-the-year-ebola-fighters-choice/ Notably, and correctly, despite the military
imagery of a "fight," those pictured were the front-line health
workers, both local and international.
While military personnel both local and international have made some
positive contributions in logistics and construction, their broader
role is much more problematic. Alex de Waal, in an article last
month (http://tinyurl.com/pauhy2h), reminds us understanding the
issue as a security question is "a strategic error. Security and
public health experts know this and have tried to steer global
health and security policies in a direction that is informed by the
best evidence and analysis. But somehow, the beguiling metaphor of
sending soldiers to fight pathogens still wins out, fueled by our
deepest fears of disease, and by our uncritical acclaim for
soldiery. It is time to discard misleading military metaphors and
spend real money on real global public health."
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++
Southern Demands for A Science-based, Just and Fair Sharing of
Global Efforts to Confront the Climate Crisis
[PDF available at http://tinyurl.com/pfrqtyb Also available with
additional background from the PanAfrican Climate Justice Alliance
In the face of multiple struggles to build a new and better world,
the climate crisis is one of most urgent challenges confronting all
of our peoples. To stabilize the Earth's climate system, prevent
planetary catastrophe and secure a safe, sustainable, just and
equitable future, we must fight for comprehensive social, economic,
and political transformation in our countries and globally.
Current levels of global warming -- 0.8 degrees Celsius from preindustrial
levels -- is already causing massive destruction,
displacement and loss of lives, and worse impacts in the near future
is already certain. We are fighting to prevent much worse, and it is
a fight we cannot afford to lose.
People are waging this fight in every dimension of their lives --
food, energy, health and security, jobs and livelihoods -- defending
their rights, the communities and the commons, and asserting people
driven solutions and alternatives. These alternatives recognize
there must be a redistribution of power and wealth, a shift to
sustainable systems of extraction and production, and a limit to the
consumption of resources if we are to live well, with justice and
dignity and in harmony with nature.
The latest report from the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) is telling us that with timely and sufficient global
climate actions there is still a chance to keep warming to below 2.0
degrees Celsius -- the official target ceiling of the international
climate talks -- and even below 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is the
maximum ceiling acceptable for many of us given the loss and damage
posed by further climate impacts. The IPCC report also confirms that
the window of time that allows for the possibility of keeping global
temperature to below 1.5 or 2 degrees is short and quickly closing.
Now more than ever, we need to intensify and speed up our efforts to
build our power and fight for a fundamental transformation of the
system. While we are fighting to transform the system, we urgently
need to win immediate and concrete victories that will enable our
people to deal with current as well as future inevitable impacts of
climate change, and victories that translate to significant
reductions in emissions that will keep us on track to preventing
catastrophic climate change.
In this light, and as part of broader struggles, we are fighting for
the following demands for fair, just and equitable sharing of
ambitious and adequate global efforts to confront the climate
1. We demand that all governments commit to
- a global goal of limiting a global goal of limiting warming to the
safest levels still possible warming to the safest levels still
possible based on based on science science
- a pathway and targets for Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions
reductions that will make it possible to achieve this goal without
potentially devastating geo-engineering
- a fair and equitable sharing of the global emissions budget and
the effort to keep within the budget, based on science, historical
responsibility and capacity - and without loopholes and without
loopholes and offsets.
The science shows that there is a definite limit to GHG emissions
the earth can take to keep below these ceilings. This limit,
referred to as a 'global emissions budget,' has already been largely
consumed, mostly by elites, corporations, and the 'developed'
countries of the North. This historical overconsumption is the core
driver of the climate crisis, and represents the climate debt owed
to people and communities who have not been responsible for the
crisis but bear its worst impacts.
To avoid overshooting the limited remaining budget and to have a
good chance of keeping below 1.5 degrees Celsius without resorting
to untested and potentially devastating geo-engineering
technologies, the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions must
take place at the scale and pace that would:
- Limit global GHG emissions from 2014 onward to a total of, at most
700 gigatons. This is the remainder of the "global emissions budget"
which, starting in the 1800s, was no more than 3000 gigatons.
- Pursue a 'pathway' of reductions that would make this limit
possible. Drastic reductions are urgently needed in the immediate
future to have a chance of keeping within the remainder of the
budget. Thus, global GHG emissions by 2030 must be at least 26%
lower than 1990 levels, and by 2050 should be at least 71% lower
than 1990 levels. This means that by 2020 -- in less than 6 years --
GHG emissions should be at least 15.5% lower than current levels.
The current most ambitious pledges are still far short of these
The limited remaining 'global emissions budget', and the effort to
keep within this budget, should be shared equitably taking into
account historical responsibility and capacity and repayment of
2. We demand that governments of the governments of the North, of
'developed countries' , stop further delays and deception, and
deception, and commit to deliver fully and unequivocally their fair
share of the effort to solve climate change, ensure a full repayment
of the climate debt owed to the peoples of the South, and shift to
sustainable and and shift to sustainable and equitable economies
through through just transitions just transitions.
Current Northern or 'developed country' pledges for mitigation
actions and climate finance -- such as the recent pronouncements by
the U.S. -- are still very short of their fair share, of fulfilling
their obligations. The bigger the shortfall in the fulfilment of
mitigation obligations in the North, the greater the suffering in
We demand that governments of the North, of 'developed' countries
commit to and comply with domestic mitigation targets that represent
the full extent of their capacity to carry out domestic mitigation
through just transitions and without loopholes, offsets and
geo-engineering. However, their accumulated excessive GHG
emissions are so huge that even extremely ambitious domestic actions
will not be enough to fulfil their fair share of the effort.
Therefore, we demand that they also commit to and deliver adequate,
additional climate finance and technology that will make it possible
for the remainder of their mitigation obligations to be undertaken
in the South. This should be separate from and in addition to
climate finance and technology for adaptation, and reparations for
loss and damage owed to the peoples of the South. The pledge of
annual $100 billion should be the floor not the ceiling, should be
additional to other commitments, and transfers should start
immediately. Climate finance should be public, non debt creating and
should go directly to peoples of the South. The $9.3 billion so far
pledged in the GCF is shockingly dismal to say the least, not only
for the paltry amount, but because there are persistent intentions
to deliver these funds to big corporations and private financial
3. We demand governments of the South, of 'developing' countries
stop following the same path of profit-led, destructive high carbon
growth that benefit that benefit only the elites taken by the North,
by 'developed' countries Instead they should shift to equitable,
just and sustainable development pathways, start taking on South
countries' fair share of the global effort, and be unrelenting in
claiming climate finance and technology from Northern governments
for Southern countries to countries to undertake mitigation actions
over and beyond their own fair share of the global effort.
Thus far, Southern or 'developing' countries bear far less and for
many like the Least Developed Countries hardly any historical
responsibility for the climate crisis. However, the business-asusual
projections of governments of developing countries show that
all will reach a point of exceeding their fair share of the global
emissions budget. This will come sooner for some countries than
others, with Least Developed Countries (LDCs) taking a much longer
All Southern or 'developing' countries should shift as quickly as
possible to more equitable, just and sustainable pathways. Even as
they should double the intensity of their demands for deep and
drastic cuts from the North, they should also take on the GHG
emissions reductions necessary to avoid exceeding their fair share
of the global carbon budget -- this constitutes their fair share of
the global effort. They must commit to clear long term emissions
reductions goals. This means, among other actions, desisting from
starting new projects that will lock in developing countries to
dirty fossil fuel energy for decades.
Developing countries are also compelled to assume part of the
mitigation obligations of developed countries, the part which the
developed countries can no longer achieve, even with extremely
ambitious domestic actions. Because our peoples are the first to
suffer and suffer the worst of the impacts of lack of action,
Southern governments must not waver in demanding climate finance and
technology from developed country governments in order to undertake
mitigation actions with just transition, over and beyond the fair
share of developing countries. And they must similarly demand the
climate finance owed by developed countries to enable peoples of the
South to deal with adaptation, loss and damage to climate change's
We also demand governments of the South ensure that the "right to
sustainable development" and "development space" being invoked in
the international climate negotiations is really for the people and
communities of the South and not for private big business and
4. We demand that mitigation commitments by all governments be
immediately translated into concrete policies for transformation of
energy systems away from fossil fuel.
Global reduction of GHG emissions require a rapid transformation of
energy systems. Governments should begin with an immediate ban on
new fossil fuel projects, a stop to the expansion of the fossil fuel
industry, immediate reduction of energy consumption by elites and
corporation, a swift and just transition to renewable and clean
energy for people and communities, and delivery of climate finance
and technology for this to happen in the South.
5. We demand all governments to put a stop to false solutions to the
In the face of the climate crisis -- saving the system rather than
changing the system has been the predictable response from the
world's elites, their corporations, and the governments and
institutions they dominate. They continue to delay actions and
insist on solutions that do not address the causes and instead are
mainly aimed at generating profits and capitalizing on peoples'
suffering. Many of these false solutions commodify nature and deepen
corporate capture of the commons.
We say no more further delays, no more deception, no more false
We are movements and organizations from the South, engaged in many
struggles for the survival of our people, for a better world. We are
determined to step up our efforts in the multitude of spaces in
which to fight for and demand climate justice at the local,
national, regional and global levels to get at the root cause of the
Additional Recent Articles
* "Why the Climate Movement Must Stand with Ferguson,"
by Deirdre Smith, August 20, 2014
http://350.org/ / direct URL: http://tinyurl.com/m8focoy
It was not hard for me to make the connection between the tragedy in
Ferguson, Missouri, and the catalyst for my work to stop the climate
It's all over the news: images of police in military gear pointing
war zone weapons at unarmed black people with their hands in the
air. These scenes made my heart race in an all-to-familiar way. I
was devastated for Mike Brown, his family and the people of
Ferguson. Almost immediately, I closed my eyes and remembered the
same fear for my own family that pangs many times over a given year.
In the wake of the climate disaster that was Hurricane Katrina
almost ten years ago, I saw the same images of police, pointing warzone
weapons at unarmed black people with their hands in the air. In
the name of 'restoring order,' my family and their community were
demonized as 'looters' and 'dangerous.' When crisis hits, the
underlying racism in our society comes to the surface in very clear
ways. Climate change is bringing nothing if not clarity to the
persistent and overlapping crises of our time.
* "Why #BlackLivesMatter Should Transform the Climate Debate,"
by Naomi Klein, December 12, 2014
http://www.thenation.com/ / direct URL: http://tinyurl.com/ojojt4f
The annual United Nations climate summit is wrapping up in in Lima,
Peru, and on its penultimate day, something historic happened. No,
not the empty promises from powerful governments to finally get
serious about climate action--starting in 2020 or 2030 or any time
other than right now. The historic event was the decision of the
climate-justice movement to symbolically join the increasingly
global #BlackLivesMatter uprising, staging a "die-in" outside the
convention center much like the ones that have brought shopping
malls and busy intersections to a standstill, from the US to the UK.
Taken together, the picture is clear. Thinly veiled notions of
racial superiority have informed every aspect of the non-response to
climate change so far. Racism is what has made it possible to
systematically look away from the climate threat for more than two
decades. It is also what has allowed the worst health impacts of
digging up, processing and burning fossil fuels--from cancer
clusters to asthma--to be systematically dumped on indigenous
communities and on the neighborhoods where people of colour live,
work and play. The South Bronx, to cite just one example, has
notoriously high asthma rates--and according to one study, a
staggering 21.8 percent of children living in New York City public
housing have asthma, three times higher than the rate for private
housing. The choking of those children is not as immediately lethal
as the kind of choking that stole Eric Garner's life, but it is very
If we refuse to speak frankly about the intersection of race and
climate change, we can be sure that racism will continue to inform
how the governments of industrialized countries respond to this
existential crisis. It will manifest in the continued refusal to
provide serious climate financing to poor countries so they can
protect themselves from heavy weather. It will manifest in the
fortressing of wealthy continents as they attempt to lock out the
growing numbers of people whose homes will become unlivable.
If the current race-based hierarchy of humanity is left
unchallenged, then we can be certain that our governments will
continue their procrastination, redefining 'dangerous' to allow for
the sacrifice of ever more people, ever more ancient culture,
languages, countries. Conversely, if black lives matter--and they
do--then global warming is already a five-alarm fire, and the lives
it has taken already are too many.
* UN Environment Programme, "Even With Emissions Cuts, Climate
Change Adaptation Costs Likely to Hit 2-3 Times Current Estimates of
$70-100 Billion per Year" Adaptation Gap Report, December 5, 2014
Even if global greenhouse gas emissions are cut to the level
required to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees C this
century, the cost of adapting to climate change in developing
countries is likely to reach two to three times the previous
estimates of $70-100 billion per year by 2050, according to a new
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report.
Released during a crucial round of climate talks in Lima, Peru, the
first UNEP Adaptation Gap Report serves as a preliminary assessment
of global adaptation gaps in finance, technology and knowledge, and
lays out a framework for future work on better defining and bridging
The report finds that, despite adaptation funding by public sources
reaching $23-26 billion in 2012-2013, there will be a significant
funding gap after 2020 unless new and additional finance for
adaptation is made available.
Without further action on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, as
outlined in UNEP's Emissions Gap Report 2014, the cost of adaptation
will soar even further as wider and more-expensive action is needed
to protect communities from the intensifying impacts of climate
change such as drought, floods and rising sea levels.
* OilChange International, "Developed Country Support for Fossil
Fuel Exploration Far Exceeds Green Climate Fund Pledges," December
The analysis shows public support from rich countries (so-called
Annex II countries) for fossil fuel exploration totals some $26.6
billion per year, while pledges to the Green Climate Fund from those
same countries come in at just over $9.5 billion.
The billions in public support for fossil fuel exploration comes
amidst warnings from scientists that some eighty percent of existing
fossil fuel reserves must remain unburned in order to keep global
warming below the internationally agreed limit of 2 degrees C.
"Spending public money on exploration for new fossil fuel reserves
flies in the face of not just climate science, but common sense. We
cannot afford to burn the vast majority of the fossil fuels already
in proven reserves, so spending money to find more is a waste of
public resources and a threat to our planet," said David Turnbull,
Campaigns Director at Oil Change International. "While we applaud
the initial steps by rich countries to achieve the $10 billion goal
for initial capitalization of the Green Climate Fund, we know that
support will be severely undercut if they continue digging the
climate hole deeper by supporting fossil fuel exploration."
The analysis is an extension of a report outlining public support
for fossil fuel exploration in all G20 countries, released by Oil
Change International and Overseas Development Institute in November
of this year. That report can be found at
"Crawling out of the climate hole with one hand while digging it
deeper with the other simply won't work. Public support for fossil
fuels, and in particular for exploration for new fossil fuel
reserves, needs to end. Now," Turnbull said.
AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication
providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a
particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus
Bulletin is edited by William Minter.
AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at email@example.com. Please
write to this address to subscribe or unsubscribe to the bulletin,
or to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about
reposted material, please contact directly the original source
mentioned. For a full archive and other resources, see