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    Fighting the Climate Apartheid

    November 25, 2015

November 25, 2015

Fighting the Climate Apartheid

At the end of this month, all diplomatic roads will lead to Paris for a global summit on the looming catastrophe of drastic and irreversible climate change. On its present course, man-made climate change will destroy the livelihoods of a quarter of the world’s people and hundreds of millions of them will be in Africa.

That being the case, one would expect African leaders to be seizing every opportunity to lobby and organise to ensure that the continent presses its case resolutely. Instead, there is an air of fatalism and despondency.

The most impressive interventions on the matter are coming from eminent Africans who do not hold political power – such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former United Nations (UN) secretary general Kofi Annan and former president of the African Development Bank Donald Kaberuka.

Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko, South Africa’s delegate to the pre-summit negotiations, complains that the 20-page draft climate change treaty is a form of apartheid that has edited out the concerns of the poorest countries, which are also the most vulnerable to extreme weather and desertification. She is right, as was Tutu when he pointed out that climate change is becoming a euphemism for social injustice.

In rich, temperate countries, global warming presages a longer planting season for farmers and pleasant summers for holidaymakers. But in Malawi, for example, it means more frequent droughts and lower crop yields.

So the apartheid analogy suggests a strategy of boycotts, divestment and mass mobilisation will be necessary if developing countries are to press their case.

Whatever the campaign plan, it must drive down carbon emissions globally and supply funds for a programme of climate adaptation that privileges the worst-hit countries. That, at least, would require a permanent global body – like the UN Environment Programme but with executive powers – to raise and distribute the finance. It will take much more than philanthropy to stop the climate catastrophe.

Demands by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to establish a global carbon price are an excellent starting point to raise the serious finance required.

Research by the Carbon Tracker Initiative shows that the proven fossil fuel reserves owned by governments and international oil companies contain five times the quantity of carbon that can be burned if we are to keep global warming below 2°C.

An agreement on a global tax on carbon dioxide emissions at the Paris summit could start a serious shift to sustainability. Already, institutions and individuals representing $2.6trn have joined the carbon divestment movement, according to Jean Pisani-Ferry, who heads policy planning in the French government.

At the same time, there must be state-backed incentives for investment to finance low-carbon economies and the reversal of the global pattern under which 70% of energy investments are fossil fuel-based. Without skin in the game, this disastrous trend will continue, summit or no summit.

Read the original article on Theafricareport.com : Fighting the Climate apartheid | Columns


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