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African Nations Show Leadership at Climate Talks

Friends of the Earth International

Continued strong and united leadership by African governments is essential at the United Nations (U.N.) climate talks in Durban, South Africa if the world is to have a chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change, Friends of the Earth International warned Dec. 2.

The global grassroots environmental federation condemned the inaction and intransigence of the industrialized world at the Durban climate talks, and the developed countries’ tactic of trying to escape their responsibilities for climate action by unraveling previous agreements and calling for a new mandate for the U.N. climate negotiations.

Friends of the Earth International’s assessment of the talks so far is:

  • Led by the U.S., Canada and Japan, developed nations are trying to shift their responsibilities for deep and drastic emissions cuts onto developing countries in Africa and elsewhere. Developing countries are suffering the most from the climate crisis and have done the least to cause the problem.
  • Developed countries are trying to kill the existing framework for legally binding emissions reductions—the Kyoto Protocol—and replace it with a disastrous bottom-up voluntary approach. The European Union (EU) has joined this push with a proposal for a so-called “new mandate” this week in Durban.
  • Developed countries are trying to carve out new business opportunities for their financial elites and multinational corporations to access funds earmarked for climate action by developing countries. These funds are supposed to go towards sustainable development and urgently needed measures to protect poor and vulnerable communities from the devastating impacts of climate change.
  • Only the Africa group of countries—one of the regions already facing the worst impacts of the climate crisis—is showing leadership in the negotiations and holding industrialized countries to their previous commitments.

“We are already one week into the talks and still there has been no discussion on the most important issue here in Durban—when and with what level of urgency the rich industrialized countries who are responsible for the climate crisis are going to reaffirm their commitment to legally binding emissions cuts in line with science and equity.

"So far, developed countries acted in the interests of their multinationals and financial elites. The world’s eyes are now on the governments of Africa to show leadership where the rich governments have abjectly failed,” said Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International.

“On Saturday thousands of people will march on the streets of Durban to demand climate justice. African leaders must hear their call and stand strong in the interests of our peoples and the people of the world,” he continued.

“Developed countries are busy trying to rearrange the deckchairs as the planet is about to sink. By opening the door to a deregulation of the U.N. climate agreement, they will begin a race to the bottom whose first victims will be the billions of people in the poorest and most vulnerable countries of Africa and the small islands,” said Asad Rehman of Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“The EU must ensure that Durban does not lock the world into an ineffective global agreement that will give a green light to polluters to continue putting their economic interests before the people and the planet. The EU must stop its talk of new mandates and deliver in Durban under the existing mandate it is committed to—the continuation of the Kyoto protocol and its binding emissions cuts,” he added.

“South African President Jacob Zuma must stand with Africa and be uncompromising on what Africans have agreed must happen if our continent is not going to burn. We need deep and drastic binding emissions cuts by the rich countries and real, public climate finance, not a mandate for a new wave of financial colonialism through a private sector facility in the new Green Climate Fund,” said Bobby Peek of Friends of the Earth South Africa.

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Aerial view of Ruropolis, Para state, northen Brazil, on Sept. 6, 2019. Tthe world's biggest rainforest is under threat from wildfires and rampant deforestation. JOHANNES MYBURGH / AFP via Getty Images

By Kate Martyr

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest last month jumped to the highest level since records began in 2015, according to government data.

A total of 563 square kilometers (217.38 square miles) of the world's largest rainforest was destroyed in November, 103% more than in the same month last year, according to Brazil's space research agency.

From January to November this year an area almost the size of the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico was destroyed — an 83% overall increase in destruction when compared with the same period last year.

The figures were released on Friday by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), and collected through the DETER database, which uses satellite images to monitor forest fires, forest destruction and other developments affecting the rainforest.

What's Behind the Rise?

Overall, deforestation in 2019 has jumped 30% compared to last year — 9,762 square kilometers (approximately 3769 square miles) have been destroyed, despite deforestation usually slowing during November and December.

Environmental groups, researchers and activists blamed the policies of Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro for the increase.

They say that Bolosonaro's calls for the Amazon to be developed and his weakening support for Ibama, the government's environmental agency, have led to loggers and ranchers feeling safer and braver in destroying the expansive rainforest.

His government hit back at these claims, pointing out that previous governments also cut budgets to environment agencies such as Ibama.

The report comes as Brazil came to loggerheads with the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) over climate goals during the UN climate conference in Madrid.

AOSIS blasted Brazil, among other nations, for "a lack of ambition that also undermines ours."

Last month, a group of Brazilian lawyers called for Bolsonaro to be investigated by the International Criminal Court over his environmental policies.

Reposted with permission from DW.

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