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Climate Change and the Environment

This page updated on-line at http://www.africafocus.org/intro-env.php.

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Talking Points

  • Global warming and environmental damage from the fossil-fuel industry already affect all of us, although responsibility lies primarily with the rich industrialized countries and the newly industrializing powers. Africa is the most vulnerable continent, but extreme weather and sea-level rise have hit New Orleans and New Jersey as well as Lagos.

  • When industries make decisions based on short-term profits, encouraged by government subsidies to established industries, they systematically discount damages from "externalities." Visible results include the devastation of oil-producing areas in the Niger Delta and of coal-producing areas, whether in South Africa or West Virginia. The longer-term consequences in rising temperatures and more extreme weather will be even more devastating.

  • Action to combat climate change depends in part on decisions made in international conferences, where the primary obstacles to action are the rich countries and the newly industrializing powers. But efforts at many other levels are also of decisive importance. Fossil-fuel divestment campaigns, as they grow and multiply, can affect investment choices. So can technological innovation. Notably, clean energy can already be more cost-effective than large-scale fossil fuel plants in supplying distributed energy access to Africa.

Storify Update: The End of Coal?

Most recent bulletins on climate change and the environment

July 20, 2022  Africa/Global: Oligarchs of All Nations http://www.africafocus.org/docs22/books2207.php
    "Biden Concedes Defeat on Climate Bill as Manchin and Inflation Upend Agenda" - New York Times, July 16, 2022

June 9, 2022  Africa/Global: Ukraine, Africa, and Our Planet http://www.africafocus.org/docs22/upd2206.php
    “An end to this terrible war based on dialogue must be the international community’s highest priority. Support to the people of Ukraine must be matched by efforts to advance Russian/Ukrainian negotiations, European security dialogue, and wider risk-reduction measures to prevent nuclear escalation.” - The Elders, May 25, 2022

April 21, 2022  Africa/Global: Climate Put on Back Burner by War http://www.africafocus.org/docs22/clim2204.php
    While media attention focuses on the cost in human lives on the ground in Europe, the direct and indirect effects are also leading to many more lives lost around the world, not least in vulnerable countries on the African continent, according to a report issued on April 13 by the United Nations. The direct effects alone are projected to devastate the world economy (https://reliefweb.int/report/world/global-impact-war-ukraine-food-energy-and-finance-systems).

November 23, 2021  Africa/Global: From Climate Denial to Deceit and Delay http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/cop26-2111.php
    Asad Rehman of War on Want spoke to the presidency of COP26 with words that resonated far from Glasgow: “The rich have refused to do their fair share, more empty words on climate finance. You have turned your backs on the poorest who face a crisis of Covid, economic and climate apartheid because of the actions of the richest. It is immoral for the rich to talk about the future of their children and grandchildren when the children of the Global South are dying now.” Less than 2 minutes. Watch here!

November 2, 2021  Africa/Global: The Heat is On! Time to Act! http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/clim2111.php
    The warnings are consistent and devastating, across the political spectrum from the International Monetary Fund from climate activists mobilizing at the climate summit in Glasgow and around the world. There are only eight years to have any chance of bending the curve of fossil fuel emissions sufficiently to avoid mounting climate chaos. Predictions are also consistent that the government officials gathered at the summit will continue to let promises and belated minimal policy shifts substitute for significant action.

July 27, 2021  USA/Africa: Building Back Better? Or Not? http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/usaf2107.php
    Last week marked six months for the Biden administration and for the narrow Democratic majority in Congress. So it seems an appropriate time for a report card on U.S. Africa policy. And that also means a review of U.S. policies on today's most pressing global issues, on which the negative effects fall disproportionately on Africans on the continent and in the diaspora.

June 14, 2021  USA/Global: Bad Days for Big Oil (except in the GOP) http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/clim2106.php
    “Fossil fuel companies are having a big reckoning with climate change this week. Shareholders for Exxon and Chevron voted for measures that could force them to take more responsibility for their emissions, while a Dutch court is forcing Shell to slash its pollution.” - The Verge, May 26, 2021

May 31, 2021  Mozambique/Global: Fossil Fuels, Debt, and Corruption http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/moz2105b.php
    “The scandal of Mozambique’s “hidden debts” has already cost the country at least 11 billion US dollars, and has plunged an additional two million people into poverty, according to a detailed study of the costs and consequences of the debt published on Friday by the anti-corruption NGO, the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP), and its Norwegian partner, the Christian Michelsen Institute. The term “hidden debts” refers to illicit loans of over two billion US dollars from the banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia in 2013 and 2014 to three fraudulent, security–linked Mozambican companies – Proindicus, Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company), and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management).” - report by Centre for Public Integrity (Mozambique) and Christian Michelsen Institute (Norway)

November 30, 2020  USA/Global: On Climate, How Much Will Be New? http://www.africafocus.org/docs20/clim2011.php
    “One of the most powerful pieces of climate change legislation the Biden administration will need has already been passed: the Dodd- Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. This legislation, known for creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other public safeguards against financial wrongdoing, also empowers key agencies including the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve and the Securities and Exchange Commission to limit systemic risks to financial stability.” - Justin Guay, Sunrise Project

October 13, 2020  Africa/Global: The Future's Not in Plastics http://www.africafocus.org/docs20/plas2010.php
    “The petrochemical industry is already facing record-low plastic feedstock prices as a result of massive overcapacity. And yet, it plans to expand supply for virgin plastics use by a quarter at a cost of at least $400 billion in the next 5 years, risking huge losses for investors. The plastics industry is a bloated behemoth, ripe for disruption. … Meanwhile, 36% of plastic is used only once, 40% ends up polluting the environment and less than 10% is actually recycled.” - Carbon Tracker Initiative

June 22, 2020  Africa/Global: Fossil Fuel Viability to Decline Sharply http://www.africafocus.org/docs20/clim2006.php
    “Falling demand and rising investment risk is likely to slash the value of oil, gas and coal reserves by nearly two thirds, sending shock waves through the global economy by hitting companies, financial markets and countries reliant on exports, finds a new report from Carbon Tracker. It warns that the fossil fuel industry is approaching terminal decline because of competition from clean technologies and tougher government policies to achieve climate targets and increase energy security. The COVID-19 crisis is now accelerating this: demand for oil could fall by 9% in 2020 according to the International Energy Agency.”

January 27, 2020  USA/Global: Green New Deal Can and Must Be Global http://www.africafocus.org/docs20/clim2001.php
    July 2019 was the hottest month ever recorded worldwide, as a wide swath of the continental United States sweltered with heat indexes of over 100° F. This northern hemisphere summer also saw unprecedented heat waves in Europe and in the Arctic, from Alaska to Siberia. Greenland´s glaciers were melting at a unprecedented rate. Add in more frequent storms, flooding and wildfires, and the scale of the crisis is harder and harder to ignore, even in the United States, where climate denialism has been more prevalent than in any other major country.

December 16, 2019  Africa/Global: Editor´s Commentaries, 2019 http://www.africafocus.org/docs19/fpif2019.php
    Just before this year’s global climate summit opened in Madrid recently, researchers announced that emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels will hit a record high in 2019. Deeper and faster cuts are needed, beginning immediately and continuing over the next 10 years. The primary responsibility for cutting fossil fuel emissions falls to the developed countries that are historically the greatest contributors to the problem, as well as to countries with large populations such as China and India that are also now among the top in global emissions. Africa is the continent most vulnerable to the devastating effects of climate change, which are already being felt. But with a thriving off-grid solar market and hundreds of millions of people waiting for electricity, Africa also offers huge potential for contributing to solutions.

October 28, 2019  Africa/Global: Untapped Potential for Africa Climate Actions http://www.africafocus.org/docs19/clim1910.php
    From off-grid solar home systems (SHS) to utility-scale solar and wind installations, the potential for major advances in use of renewable energy is growing rapidly on the African continent. If this potential is materialized at a faster pace, Africa countries could contribute significantly to mitigating the global climate crisis. This would also reduce the ongoing damage to the environmental health of their citizens, whether from kerosene lamps in rural areas or massive coal pollution in South Africa.

Complete listing of bulletins on climate change and the environment, 2003-present