Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Radio Interview about COP 17 Durban

Adrian Shaw form the Church of Scotland Climate Change project and Eco-Congregation Scotland spoke to Cathy MacDonald on her radio show last sunday about the Durban conference.

You can listen to the interview here:

Or download it here.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute Appeal

Too Great a Toll:
SAFCEI is helping the Pondoland Wild Coast Community raise funds for a court case to
oppose development which threatens their livelihoods and natural environment.
2012 Calendar Sales R200 each.
Please call 021-7018145 / 083-4681798. Email cop17@safcei.org.za

Press release from Bishop Geoff Davies:          9th December 2011

Yesterday I told President Zuma that when some people say the end of the world is at hand, I am quite sure that God does not want to bring about the end of this incredible, magnificent and abundant creation, but we humans are in danger of bringing it about.  In fact we are effectively doing so.

Whatever the outcome of COP17 we have to say that it will not be nearly ambitions enough. We are deeply disturbed and disappointed.

We are totally dependent on the well-being of this planet. If we don’t get a binding agreement – and Kyoto is the only one we have – we continue the destruction of this planet.  But our emission reductions must be much more ambitious than Kyoto requires if we have any hope of avoiding catastrophic climate change.

At the faith rally the day before the climate talks started we presented a petition signed by over 200 000 people to the President and Secretary of COP17.

The three key demands for COP 17 are well known:
1. A FAB agreement (fair, ambitious and legally binding) and commitment to a second period of the Kyoto Protocol
2. Clear short and long term targets for carbon emission reductions that keep average global temperature increases well below 1.5 degree
3. Ensure there is adequate finance for adaptation in Africa

But the petition starts by calling on World Leaders to be honest! This is because we cannot fool nature and the environment.  We might try to deceive one another but when we are not honest with the environment, we pay the consequences.  The question now is whether this COP will seek an agreement that places the health and well-being of the planet and people before financial interests and political posturing.  

At the Rally the day before COP started, we asked that South Africa builds a spirit of trust and that all of us – all nations, races, religions, cultures - co-operate in meeting this greatest threat ever to confront humanity.  Stop competing.  Start cooperating! I am glad that I have heard the word co-operate frequently in the plenary.  This is encouraging, but we know that not all nations are agreeing to renew the Kyoto Protocol.

At this late stage, we ask South Africa to be BOLD in setting an example so that we break the logjam and that we do this by basing decisions based on moral principles of justice and compassion and love for people and planet.  This is the only way we will stave off the destruction of all life on this planet, our only home. 

If South Africa could make a bold public commitment to move away urgently from coal to renewable energy we could set even more ambitious targets for reducing carbon emmissions.

We are not helped by news reports that there will be a R3 billion investment in Richards Bay to export 91 million tons of coal a year, or our Minister of Energy stating last week that South Africa has this great of resource of coal and that we would continue burning coal in the future.    

So South Africa wants to continue digging for coal and other nations want to expand the drilling for oil and so we have a stalemate and we will all suffer the consequences.
The reason I am talking about our domestic policy is that by making a dramatic announcement, as host nation, South Africa could call on all nations to make the urgent emission cuts needed to stave off disaster.

Certainly historic polluters like the USA need to reduce their emmissions, dramatically. We find the US position tragic – actually reprehensible!  For the USA chief negotiator to say that the US will just have to reduce emissions more sharply in the future is shocking.  Every year we delay sends millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere – for the next 100 years.  We can’t get it back.  The children and grandchildren of US Congressmen will ask what their parents and grandparents were doing to be so selfish and irresponsible.

The USA is a most religious society yet their behaviour can only be described as sinful because this refusal to reduce emmissions is causing immense environmental destruction and suffering among people.  The Ecumenical Patriarch, Archbishop Bartholomew, has called environmental destruction “a sin against God and a crime against humanity”. 

As a follower of Jesus Christ, we know that he said "If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck ...(Mark 9:42).  Millions of children are already stumbling in Africa because of our failure to act.

But it is not only the historic polluters who must act. NO country is entitled to carbon space. The new polluters, like China and India and ourselves (South Africa), need to start reducing emmissions - from 2012 the scientists say! The great news is that the USA, China, India and South Africa all have the capacity and the technical ability to implement renewable energy which can be up and running within months rather than years.  It only requires the political will.

We know the importance of development in Africa.  It is essential that historic polluters assist Africa to leap frog the polluting fossil fuel era into the new solar and renewable energy era through finance owed to Africa.  They have an ecological debt!

When it comes to finance, look at our priorities.  The world could spend $1 trillion to bail out the banks.  The top six armaments expenditure countries spend more than $1 trillion annually, with the US topping the bill with $664 000 billion in 2009, yet we cannot find $100 billion for the planet.  Just half of this “defence” budget would enable the world to meet the MDGs and go a long way to restoring the environmental health of the planet.

The Bible calls strongly for Justice (Amos Chapter 5 verses12 and 24 among many others).  All religions call for Justice.  In South Africa we had to abolish the injustices of Apartheid before we could find peace.  The Apartheid government was spending more and more defending its immoral position.  The same applies in the world today. We have global Apartheid between the rich north and the developing south.  Until we establish justice in the world, we won’t find peace.  We call on the US in particular to give a lead in establishing justice within the global community.  It can then establish a Department of Peace instead of “Defence”.

The negotiation target is still keeping temperature increases below 2 degrees.  We find this incredible.  Already at 0.8 degree average global temperature increase we are experiencing horrific weather extremes – I don’t need to catalogue those.  To go up an average of 2 degrees will bring about horrendous floods and droughts and the scientists warn that Africa will become twice as hot.  Can you imagine a 4 or 5 degree average temperature increase?

It is clear we are being held ransom by the fossil fuel industry.  We sell the birth right of our children to our addiction to fossil fuels.

So our plea at this late stage is that South Africa and the nations of the world “do the right thing”.  This COP would then be remembered for taking a principled stand.

When William Wilberforce was campaigning against slavery, the politicians and business men said the economy of England would collapse without slavery.

Now we are being told the same about carbon, and we have become enslaved.  “Will the last human on earth turn out the lights”.  This sticker was on a door in the toilets of the convention centre.  We can have all the energy we want, on a dead planet.

The well-being of people and planet must be at the centre of negotiations and this can only be done through applying moral principles. 

Finally, we ask that South Africa stands with our African brothers and sisters.  By following African traditions of Ubuntu and sharing and cooperation, we can show the world the path to a sustainable future. 

We have the resources.  Let us not sell out to the big corporations.  President Zuma spoke at a side event on African Agriculture.  We must ask that this initiative is to support the millions of small scale farmers with organic agriculture and not a new wave of big agro-business funded by outside  

We are strongly committed to ecological and organic agriculture as a solution to climate change but we are very wary of putting small African farmers under the control of carbon markets and offsets.  Climate smart agriculture will only work if it does not open the door to CDMs.

To be honest to the environment means that we honestly reduce our emmissions, rather than offsetting them. 

Bishop Geoff Davies
Executive Director
Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI)
Office Phone:  +27 21 701 8145
Cell Phone:      +27 83 754 5275

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Get on yer bike on 11th January!

Message from Stop Climate Chaos Scotland about Edinburgh event:

Photo borrowed from
Spokes (http://www.spokes.org.uk/)
We need your help with our campaign stunt

When:           Wednesday 11th January 2012, 1pm

Where:          St Andrews House, Regent Road, Edinburgh

We need your help for just one hour to urge Scottish Ministers to increase funding for cycling and walking instead of funding expensive road-building programmes that will increase Scotland’s carbon footprint.

Scotland has shown global leadership by setting the most ambitious emissions reduction targets in the world. But our Climate Change Act can only set a good example if we actually achieve what we’ve committed to do – and that’s under threat, as the Scottish Government has failed to fund its own plans to reduce emissions.

The area that is of most serious concern is funding for sustainable transport.

So we need as many people on bikes as possible to gather outside St Andrews House (which is the main office of the Scottish Government), at 1pm on Wednesday 11th January.

A strong crowd will send a clear message that people in Scotland want an urgent change in the way public funds are being spent on transport. We’ll also be inviting the media to get national press coverage on the issue too.

Whether you’re young or old, use your bike for commuting, shopping, fitness or pleasure, we’d love to see you there. A broad cross-section of people will send a stronger message.

For more information and to let us know you’re planning to come, please email Gail Wilson, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland Co-ordinator - gail@stopclimatechaosscotland.org.

Find the event on Facebook at: http://on.fb.me/tVPIKq

Durban outcome is not enough, says WCC

Message from the World Council of Churches:

Youth for Eco-Justice at a demonstration in Durban
 In a statement read on 9 December to government members from around the world at the United Nations climate summit in Durban, South Africa, the World Council of Churches (WCC) reaffirmed the need for a fair, ambitious and binding treaty to effectively address climate change effects on vulnerable communities.

"In Durban, religious communities have come together in various ways to express that climate change is also a moral and spiritual crisis. We proclaim together: We have faith. Act now for climate justice" the statement requested.

It was read to the High Level segment of the 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by Elias Crisostomo Abramides, from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

During these last two weeks the WCC delegation to COP17, which ended on Sunday in Durban, highlighted the theological, ethical and spiritual dimensions of climate change through various activities.

Expressing his views regarding the COP17, the WCC general secretary, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said, “Though a minimum deal was achieved at the last minute to keep the Kyoto Protocol, make some steps towards a new legally binding agreement in 2015, and implement the Green Climate Fund, the overall Durban outcome is far from being enough to respond to the currently disappearing countries and future generations.”

“We need to listen to vulnerable countries and populations, and think of the legacy we are leaving to our children. Churches should continue to act and pray, especially during this time when we prepare for Christmas, the event when God sent his Son, Jesus, to save our beloved planet,” he added.

On Saturday, 3 December some 200-300 people associated with the ecumenical “Time for Climate Justice” campaign joined thousands of other peaceful demonstrators marching through the streets of Durban to voice the civil society demands on climate change.

Interfaith advocacy for climate justice
On the following day an interfaith celebration included prayers from Baha'i, Brahma Kumaris, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim leaders.

At a workshop organized at Durban's Diakonia Centre, Metropolitan Seraphim of Zimbabwe, from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, asked: "Isn't the work for the care of the creation and against climate change and poverty a concrete way of building the visible unity of the church?"

Dr Guillermo Kerber, WCC programme executive on Care for Creation and Climate Justice, stressed that once again the negotiations have not met the expectations of the poorest and most affected countries, churches and the civil society at large.

"We are still very far from the committed response that vulnerable communities and regions affected by climate change need to see from the international community in order to address the challenges posed by climate change. Some of the industrialized countries have prevented a more ambitious and effective regime. The decision of Canada of withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol is an example of the failure of the negotiations".

When asked what story of hope he would point out, Kerber said: "At this COP, the Youth for Eco-Justice (Y4EJ) showed the enthusiasm and commitment of the young generation to bridge the gap between eco-justice activities at the congregations with advocacy at the global level."
The Y4EJ, organized jointly by the WCC and the Lutheran World Federation, brought together 30 young adults from all over the world for training, field visits and interaction with COP17.

More information on WCC work for eco-justice:www.oikoumene.org/eco-justice
Care for creation and climate justice:
High resolution photos of the Youth for Eco-Justice programme in Durban are available via photos.oikoumene.org

Act Alliance Climate Change Conference message

Press release from:

Durban deal only the start, says ACT Alliance

ACT Alliance welcomes the hard-fought political victory championed by the EU, small island states and the least developed countries in the waning hours of the UN climate conference in Durban, where governments of the world’s largest polluters finally agreed to the principle of a global plan to tackle climate change.

The agreement proves largely disappointing, however, for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, says ACT Alliance. Indeed, the global plan will not take effect until 2020 – a date that will be too late for many. The world’s poor are already hit by floods, droughts, deadly storms, hunger and disease – which will only worsen as a result of climate change. The deal leaves open the prospect that the world’s temperature will rise by 3 or 4 degrees, which is significantly higher than the 2 degrees deemed manageable by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Secretary General of ACT Alliance, John Nduna, said that while governments are relieved the climate summit in Durban delivered at least some sort of agreement, “the poor and vulnerable will weep at its content. The agreement is too careful and vague to stave off the worst impacts of climate change in time.”

While the Durban outcome left much to be desired, the clear success of this COP has been to mobilise the Green Climate Fund, a new tool to channel climate finance to developing countries. Nduna explained that the Fund “is of huge importance for the adaptation, disaster risk reduction and support work needed at the grassroots level.”

However, a fund without money will not be able to deliver. Governments must urgently agree on how to mobilise the necessary funds.

COP17 also agreed on a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol, but the new deal severely watered down the only existing international legal agreement on climate change, paving the way for a number of countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions targets to arbitrary quantities based on political expediency rather than scientific necessity.

Nduna explains, “We did not want the Kyoto Protocol for its name, but its content – and we therefore regret this development. We are concerned that the basic spirit of the Kyoto Protocol is fading.”

The outcome in Durban places a huge burden on emergency response networks such as ACT Alliance in its support of vulnerable communities in their adaptation and mitigation efforts – as climate-induced emergencies increase in number and intensity. As such, ACT Alliance and similar coalitions must also pressure governments to live up to their promises made in Durban.
Looking forward, Nduna concludes, “the world will need to work hard in the next months and years to concretise the loose agreement made in Durban.”

About ACT Alliance
ACT is a global coalition of 125 churches and related organisations working together for justice for the world’s poor and oppressed. With strong local roots in 140 countries, ACT mobilises US$1.6 billion annually for humanitarian assistance, development and advocacy work. The alliance has over 33,000 people working for it globally.

Mattias Söderberg, ACT Alliance Senior Advocacy Adviser
M +45 29700609

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Durban Climate Change Talks in a Rut

Message from Rev. Tafue Molu Lusama (General Secretary, Tuvalu):
The negotiations are moving not in the right direction as expected, the expectation of an agreement on a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol seems very weak due to some contries refusing to do anything with the Kyoto Protocol at all, and some even are trying to jump out of the protocol. The issue of a similar protocol to start a process of negotiations now and to finalize it in 2013 which will include countries who are not in the Kyoto and including the developing countries who have become major emmitting countries seems also vaque because it is underminded by those developing countries. The US is saying that it will do nothing at all unless the developing countries like India and China agrees to do something. It is frustrating here. But the EU is very supporting of our position for a second commitment of the KP and the proposal for a parallel protocol to include developing major emmitter countries.

It is not very encouraging, seems like it will again drag for
another year without an agreement on a deal.

Please keep us in your prayers as we try and work to have a positive outcome here in Durban.

Kind regards

Rev. Tafue Molu Lusama

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Low-carbon Africa: Leapfrogging to a green future by Christian Aid

Christian Aid's new report Low-carbon Africa: Leapfrogging to a green future, makes the case that Africa is able to deliver clean and sustainable energy to millions of energy-poor people across the continent without increasing greenhouse gas emissions – and for this renewable power potential to drive a green economic expansion across the region.

For further information or to download a copy click here.

Durban Diaries 1

Filed From Durban By
Mr. Charles Agboklu
Religious Bodies Network On Climate Change. [RELBONET]

29TH NOV. 2011

COP 17 kicked off in grand style on Monday, the 28th November, in Durban. The first day was used to sort out agendas and procedural matters for the start of real business among the Parties. Civil Society Action was also fully on display, calling attention of delegates and negotiators to the crucial issues that they need to pay attention to for the achievement of positive outcomes.
All the UNFCCC BODIES that are charged with the responsibilities to negotiate and deliver a fair, ambitious and equitable outcome in Durban were subsequently cranked into action.
The Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice [SBSTA] that is responsible for the Science of Climate Change and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation [SBI] responsible for the implementation of COP decisions went into session immediately.

The Plenary Session of the SBI was chaired by her Excellency, Nkoana- Mashabane of South Africa who is the President of COP 17. The Plenary session was mainly devoted to seeking the opinion of the various political blocks represented in the SBI on the core issues of climate change that relates to them for consideration.
The President called out the PARTIES in turns to make very brief comments and submissions from their various countries and blocks on the issues.

  • ARGENTINA representing the Group of 77 + China expressed concern about the increase in GHG [Green House Gases] by the industrialized countries [Annex 1] even as the debate on Climate Change rages on. She indicated that the shifting of goalposts by Annex 1 countries on to developing nations on mitigation actions and reduction of emissions is unacceptable.
  • Argentina supports the maintenance of reports on technical reviews on the emission targets and also called on the Annex 1 countries to provide the necessary financial resources needed by developing countries to tackle their problems and also prepare their National Communications as demanded of them.
  • THE GAMBIA representing the Least Developed Countries [LDC] supports the early completion of National Adaptation Plans and called on the Global Environment Fund [GEF] to expedite action on the funding of the plans, devoid of any discrimination.
  • GRENADA speaking for the Alliance of Small Island States [AOSIS] supported the statements from Argentina and the Gambia and said time was running out for the AOSIS since they were already experiencing very extreme weather effects that needed immediate action.

C.A.N. organized a press briefing to highlight concerns about the delay in signing up to the 2nd commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol [KP]. The panel was made up of members representing the Green Peace, Oxfam, Christian Aid and C.A.N.

  • The Representative from Green Peace said that the African soil should not become the graveyard for the Kyoto Protocol. He emphasized that the KP remains the only global model and roadmap which should be followed to its logical conclusion. The panel further called on the EU to show commitment and defend the KP, listen to the AOSIS states and re-launch onto the KP talks.
  • Oxfam opined that it was crucial for COP 17 to see finality to the establishment of the Green Climate Fund as demanded by the Cancun Agreement.
  • Christian Aid indicated that DURBAN should be the birthplace of a second commitment period of the KP

30TH NOV 2011
The International Union for Conservation of Nature [I.U.C.N.] and the Women’s Environment & Development Organization [WEDO] organized a side event to share the results of a study on Gender and REDD+ conducted in Ghana, Uganda and Cameroon.
The study indicated that Gender considerations are essential to the successful outcome of any REDD+ Initiatives. They indicated that as all countries move towards a Green Economy, it was crucial for all to move away from the previous attitudes of non-inclusiveness of women in decision making processes and create space for Gender Equality in programming and also balance the equation between men and women.

  • There was the need to scale up women business enterprises from the micro to the macro level since studies reveal that when women create businesses and lead them they result into greater productivity.
  • The study emphasized the need to engage women in the REDD+ preparedness initiatives from the very beginning and not later.
  • The study recommended the involvement of women in policy issues from the local, national to international levels, build their capacity to become competitive, have access to finance, work together to achieve bottom – up approaches, participate in project design and implementation.

The study concluded that Gender Equality and Empowerment is critical to sustainable and economic development; therefore involving women in REDD+ Initiatives will increase productivity and close the Gender Gap.

The AWG – LCA which is one of the negotiation tracks according to the Bali Plan of Action held a meeting of the parties and observers.
The purpose of the meeting was to move the process for an Enhanced Action on Adaptation forward since their last consultations in Panama.
The facilitator opened the meeting by recalling the process they adopted in Panama  and recommended that if all parties agree, they could then adopt that methodology.
He called on the negotiators to consider harmonizing compatible texts in order to reduce the volume of texts without losing their original meanings.
Countries were then called one after the other for their comments on the way forward that would enable the committee come up with a draft text for the consideration of the PARTIES IN COP 17.
Mexico and Ghana, on behalf of the Group of 77 + China indicated that they were interested in moving the process forward, while negotiators should maintain an open mind to be able to recognize any new issues that might likely arise between Panama and Durban.
The negotiator from Georgia, reminded the Chairman about a previous submission that  there were some Nine ( 9) states in Eastern Europe that neither belong to the Group of 77 + China nor the [LDC’S] and that due recognition be taken of this fact that should not be forgotten during the consideration and consolidation of the text stages.
The representative from the Philippines advised that all the consultations should continue in the spirit they all exhibited in Panama to allow for an early accomplishment of their assignment.
The Parties are to meet again on Saturday to move the negotiations forward.