Resisting Dirty Energy - Struggles from the ground

23 November 2011 - The second day of the groundWork, 'Dirty Energy Week' Conference was heated with the community people and NGO's discussing their Dirty Energy struggles from the fenceline this Wednesday, from Madagascar, Canada, Uganda, Nigeria, Highveld, Soweto, Sasolburg, Vanderbijlpark and other places.

Nnimmo Bassey, Director of Environmental Rights Action, raised concerns of how Africa is being sold out by its political elite, and specifically called for Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and spokesperson for Africa, to not bother to come to South Africa.  He commented that Zenawi's position on COP15 weakened the African demands for emissions reduction and binding commitments. "Even before COP17 begins in Durban, Zenawi has already declared that Africa will flexible. He is again opening up the continent for a weak and undefended position. It is unacceptable as Africa will not be seeking to cut the emissions at the source, which are the polluting countries. It also means they will accept positions that are not to the continents best interest," he said.

Soweto Concerned Residents spoke about their battles with the increasing electricity costs and the right for electricity to be available in townships especially during winter. Various renewable energy options were also available and a call was for government to invest in solar power options. It was mentioned by the NGO's about who was dirty energy for as the overall impacts have dire consequences for community people. Discussions were also held about moving beyond fossils fuels and the main global role players who are responsible for the financing of dirty energy and climate change. [1]

After two days of discussing weaknesses of the present climate regime, tomorrow (Thursday, 24th November), the 'Dirty Energy Week' moves forward to look beyond the present climate negotiations, beyond the present COP17 and beyond the UNFCCC.  It is critical to create options for people's led
action on determining how the climate change is challenged and addressed,rather than handing over our authority to government representatives and political leaders. It was agreed that the public plays an important role in driving change and to hold governments accountable for their actions

The meeting will speak about actions for democratising and decentralising energy and how society' can keep the oil in the soil' and the coal in the hole'. Critically, the lack of energy for people in the global South further impoverishes the poor.  In South Africa, corporations such as BHP Billiton pay below cost for electricity, while poor people pay seven times more for their energy.  The meeting recognises that climate change is caused primarily by fossil fuel energy projects, which services corporate capital rather than the needs of the people especially the poor who are exploited by this arrangement.

Susan Goosen from the Lephalale area talking about the illegal sand mining from the Eskom Medupi coal fired power station

Susan Goosen from the Lephalale area talking about the illegal sand mining from the Eskom Medupi coal fired power station.

Footnotes:

[1] Please find attached the agenda which highlights issues that touches on the exploitation of peoples and the environment. This introduces the public to the background of various topics surrounding the COP17 event and dirty energy globally. See detailed information here ...