2011 NEWS AND PRESS RELEASES
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Bonga Spill: Discountenance Shell, Independently Verify Spill Volumes, ERA/FoEN urges Nigerian Government
22 December 2011 - The Nigerian government must, as a duty to communities of the Niger Delta that suffer endless spills in their environment, ensure independent ways of verifying the amounts of spewed crude disclosed by the oil companies, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has demanded. The call comes on the heels of Shell's forced shut down of its 200,000 barrel-a-day Bonga field after an alleged leak during a tanker loading caused what may be Nigeria's worst offshore spill in more than a decade.
See Blog by Nnimmo Bassey covering the oil spill.
Call on SA Government not to Remove the Fracking Moratorium
This is an urgent call to sign a petition to call on the South African government NOT to remove the 'fracking' Moratorium.
Go to the Petition site and spread the call.
Climate: Disastrous "Durban Package" accelerates onset of Climate Catastrophe
DURBAN, 14 December 2011 – The UN climate talks in Durban were a failure and take the world a significant step back by further undermining an already flawed, inadequate multilateral system that is supposed to address the climate crisis, according to Friends of the Earth International. Developed countries engaged in a smoke and mirrors trick of delivering rhetoric but no action, failed to commit to urgently needed deep emissions cuts, and even backtracked on past commitments to address the climate crisis, said Friends of the Earth International.
Occupy South Africa? Activists stage a sit-in at U.N.climate talks
DURBAN, 9 December 2011 - The Occupy movement has arrived in Durban. As the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change talks near their finale, activists staged a sit-in aimed at highlighting the vulnerability of poor countries. The protesters, many of whom lost their accreditation badges after being removed peacefully by security, lay the blame for the current impasse on the United States.
REACTION TO TODAY´S PROTEST AT THE U.N. CLIMATE TALKS
DURBAN, 9 December 2011 - Commenting on today's protest at the UN climate talks attended by hundreds of climate justice activists from many organisations in support of a strong and fair agreement to protect Africa and the world, Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International, said:
"The people have spoken loud and clear: we need climate justice now and this means urgent action. Yet the politicians inside the talks are once again failing to deliver. If urgent, ambitious action is not taken, the lives of millions will be in peril."
Pro-Zuma Supporters Physically Attack Civil Society at Durban Townhall Meeting on Climate Change.
DURBAN, 8 December 2011 - In a meeting designed for engagement between President Zuma and communities & civil society, violence broke out when peaceful civil society demonstrators silently held up signs asking "Zuma to stand with Africa". Pro-Zuma supporters, many wearing the uniforms of COP17 volunteers, then attacked the demonstrators in an act of mob violence.
Call on South Africa's largest polluter to get out of the climate change negotiations
Thursday, 08 December 2011 - Friends of the Earth International and Friends of the Earth South Africa call on Sasol to get out of the climate negotiations and stop promoting false solutions to the climate crisis.
COP17: The Great Escape III
Thursday, 08 December 2011 - After 9 days of negotiations there is no doubt that we saw this movie before. It is the third remake of Copenhagen and Cancun. Same actors. Same script. The documents are produced outside the formal negotiating scenario. In private meetings, dinners which the 193 member states do not attend. The result of these meetings is known only on the last day.
No Durban mandate for the great escape
Thursday, 08 December 2011 - African civil society and international allies reject the call of many developed countries for a so-called "Durban mandate" to launch new negotiations for a future climate framework. A new mandate for a new treaty in place of the Kyoto Protocol should be understood for what it really is – rich countries backtracking and reneging on "inconvenient" obligations, at the expense of the poor and the planet.
Leaked report finds World Bank management failed to consider critical environmental Issues on $3.75 Billion loan to Eskom to build one of the largest coal power plants in the World
Durban, South Africa, Wednesday, 7th December 2011 - A leaked Inspection Panel (IP) report reveals significant environmental, social and climate impacts associated with the World Bank's $3.75 billion loan in 2010 to build the 4800 MW coal power plant, Medupi. Local community members have been challenging the illegal sand mining used for the construction of Medupi as it has affected the water flow from the local river. The report found that these impacts, including an estimated release of CO2 emissions of 26 million metric tones every year, were not adequately addressed by the World Bank.
FOEI Demands for EU COP17 commitments
Wednesday 07 December, 2011 - Instead of leading the world to deeper emission reductions, the EU is leading the world to climate catastrophe. The EU must commit to a second commitment period with at least 40% emissions reductions target and no loopholes or carbon markets. The EU must also keep the Kyoto-track alive for subsequent periods. Several studies confirm that the current weak pledges will result in 5 degrees of warming, leading to climate catastrophe around the world.
Waste pickers would make more money if the "middlemen" were cut out.
Durban, 7 December 2011 - Representatives of the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers demonstrated outside Durban's Inkosi Albert Luthuli convention centre where the COP 17 climate talks are being held. They said waste pickers struggled to make ends meet because they sold the material they collected at ridiculously low prices to middlemen who made a fortune.
Read the World Bank Inspection Panel Investigation Report Overview and Key Findings regarding Medupi power plant.
Tuesday, 6th December 2011 -The World Bank Inspection Panel have investigated claims from community members living near the Medupi power plant, supported by groundWork and Earthlife Africa, of non-compliance with the World Bank's operational policies and procedures with respect to the "South Africa: Eskom Investment Support Project".
groundWork, South Durban Community Environmental Alliance and Earthlife Africa Jhb Statement to the UNFCCC / COP17
Saturday, 3rd December 2011 - For millions of people around the world, climate change is already catastrophic. People have lost their lives to unprecedented flooding in countries on every continent. And everywhere people have succumbed to extreme and unusual heat waves and drought. COP 17 has been called the African COP. In much of Africa, the temperature rises at one and a half times the global average. Having contributed least to the problem, African people are already severely affected by it.
Developed Nations – Led By US, UK and Japan - Try to Turn Green Climate Fund into Greedy Corporate Fund.
DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, Dec. 1, 2011 - Today, 163 civil society organisations from 39 countries released a letter exposing an attempt led by the US, the UK and Japan to turn the Green Climate Fund into a "Greedy Corporate Fund" at UN climate talks in South Africa.
A Message for Canada during the UN Climate Summit in Durban:
DURBAN, 1 December 2011 - Canada, you were once considered a leader on global issues like human rights and environmental protection. Today you're home to polluting tar sands oil, speeding the dangerous effects of climate change. For us in Africa, climate change is a life and death issue.
Banks lent 232 billion euros to the coal industry
DURBAN, 30 November 2011 - Leading banks around the world lent 232 billion euros ($308 billion) to the coal industry, one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gases, from 2005 to 2010, BankTrack campaigners said here on Wednesday. The figures, presented on the sidelines of November 28-December 9 UN climate talks in Durban, come from a trawl through the lending portfolios of 93 of the world's leading banks, they said.
Indigenous activists from North America join African activists to target Shell
DURBAN, 30 November 2011 - In Canada and the United Kingdom, Indigenous activists and their supporters targeted Shell today for violating agreements made with Indigenous communities in Canada. In Durban, site of the ongoing UN climate talks, activists from Canada joined activists from Africa to denounce Shell and their repeated violations of human rights and environmental regulations.
Activists to Unite against Climate Gangsters
DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, 28 November 2011 – Last week Friday saw the ending of the Dirty Energy Week strategy conference, organised by the South African based environmental justice NGO, groundWork, together with 14 national and international NGO's, and community organisations. The conference was successful in creating a synergy among all the community people, NGOs and unions who are determined to expose the false energy solutions and carbon trading at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties 17 (COP17).
UN Climate Talks: Strong Concerns Over Agenda of Developed Countries
DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, 28 November 2011 – Friends of the Earth International has expressed strong concerns over the agenda of the US and a number of other developed countries at the UN climate talks in Durban from 28 November to 9 December.
The global grassroots environmental federation is calling on other governments to stop these countries from undermining the globally-agreed framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to ensure stronger targets for legally binding emissions cuts in line with science and equity.
Pablo Solón Addresses the Closing Session at 'Dirty Energy Week'
Pablo Solón, the former Bolivian Ambassador to the United Nations, delivered the closing address at the Dirty Energy Week, a strategy conference which has been organised by the South African based environmental justice NGO groundWork, together with 14 national and international NGOs, and community organisations .
The week- long conference events sought to build solidarity amongst communities victimised by fossil fuels, and to expose and challenge false energy solutions and carbon trading within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties 17 (COP17), now known to climate justice activists as 'Conference of Polluters'.
Resisting Dirty Energy Struggles from the ground
23 November 2011 - The second day of the groundWork 'Dirty Energy Week' Conference was heated with 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.
groundwork's Climate Energy and Justice overview –what you need to know!
See the Zulu Version – Isimo SezuluSethu Imibono Yethu – Our Climate! Our Say! - Download here
The Dirty Energy Week - Stories from the ground: Struggles in Africa!
23 November 2011 -
Community people demand democratic and accountable governments in climate negotiations
22 November, 2011
More than 100 community, union and NGO representatives gathered to kick off the 'Dirty Energy Week' gathering, organised by the South African based environmental justice NGO, groundWork, together with 14 national and international NGOs and community organisations. On the eve of the UN negotiations, they are gathering to discuss climate proofing communities and cleaner energy solutions.
The Dirty Energy Week - To Cook a Continent: Destructive Extraction and the Climate Crisis in South Africa – some reflections from Nnimmo Bassey at the opening of the Dirty Energy Week!
22 November 2011
Africa is central to the climate change debate. South Africa is known to be one of the largest contributors of GHG emissions. It emits more than 40% of Africa's GHG.
Climate negotiations package issues in way to show that the world is going green, but one cannot call criminal acts "green" when their resources are up for grabs which also leads to conflicts and wars in some countries. Such acts are continuing all over "Oiled Africa" ranging from Durban coast and entire coast line of Africa to Rift Valley and Nature Reserves to fracking on Karroo. Oil found all over continent and concessions given, explorations, will lead to conflict.
The Dirty Energy Week:
Challenging Climate Gangsters.
Building Solidarity to Expose and Challenge False Energy Solutions at the UNFCCC and Beyond – Energy Ubuntu!
groundWork is seeking to bring together communities who face climate justice challenges on a daily basis, where corporations and governments undemocratically enforce decisions which destroy people's lands, livelihoods and lives.
Toxic dumpsite at Chatsworth finally shuts down
Durban, 17 November, 2011 - After a long twenty year battle by environmental organisations and the Chatsworth community, the hazardous Bulbul landfill site shut down permanently on Tuesday, 15th November, 2011.
Residents waited with bated breath as the gates finally closed.
See the groundWork submission on: National Climate Change Response White Paper 2011
South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs calls for mercury medical device ban
30 October 2011 - South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) is recommending that the country's Ministry of Health issue a directive to all provincial governments immediately suspending the purchase of mercury-based thermometers, blood pressure devices and dental amalgam.
"This is a major step forward in the effort here in South Africa to substitute mercury-based medical devices with safe, accurate and affordable alternatives" said Rico Euripidou, Environmental Health Campaigner for groundWork South Africa.
groundWork's Bobby Peek presented the 2011 Ruth Edgecombe Memorial Lecture
The central focus of the 2011 Ruth Edgecombe Memorial Lecture, which each year is dedicated to highlighting issues of environmental significance, was on climate justice. The lecture is held in honour of UKZN Professor, Ruth Edgecombe, who was a passionate scholar of environmental history who contributed to the growing research in this field of study in South Africa.
Hosted by UKZN's School of Environmental Sciences and the Wilderness Action Group, this year's lecture featured renowned environmental activist, Mr Bobby Peek. Director and founding member of groundWork, a non-governmental environmental justice organisation in Pietermaritzburg, Peek spoke on the topic: "Climate Change and COP17: is climate justice a reality for South Africans?"
Arab Spring in Egypt Brings 'Pivotal Moment' for Garbage Collectors
1994 Goldman Prize winner Laila Iskandar and her Cairo-based NGO, the Spirit of Youth Association (SYA), saw an opportunity in Egypt's recent political uprising to raise awareness about the importance of proper waste management.
They set up shop in the now infamous Tahrir Square, installing a total of 50 containers on each corner of the Square, to facilitate the separation of organic from non-organic waste. Youth volunteers stood near each waste receptacle to explain how to properly sort trash. Trucks then transport the trash collected from the containers, taking organic waste to composting centers and the rest to sorting and processing stations for recycling.
Iskandar has called this a "pivotal moment" for garbage collectors. "During the 18 days of the revolution, the multinationals in charge of collecting garbage stopped their activity, while local garbage collectors continued to pick up garbage door to door and transport it to Manshiyet Nasr," she said.
South Africa: Power to the people
Bobby Peek tells how the struggle for environmental rights is intertwined with the one over access to energy.
After decades of struggle, South Africa finally gained its democracy in 1994.
This included the delivery of a constitution that guaranteed people a new tomorrow through a Bill of Rights.
One of the most progressive of these was people's right to 'an environment that is not harmful to their health and well-being'. It put people and their health at the centre of protecting the environment.
This was far-reaching as South Africa had emerged from centuries of colonialism and apartheid in which conservation of wildlife was put ahead of local people's lives and wellbeing.
Nearly two decades after the dawn of our democracy, are we better off? Has there been delivery of these rights?
Press Invite to Book Launch Toxic Futures: South Africa in the Crises of Energy, Environment and Capital
Date: Monday, 19 September
Time: 5:30 for 6:00 pm
Venue: Ike's Books and Collectables 48A Florida Road Durban
The South African government is failing our Nation, Africa and the global poor by continuing its corporate led agenda of ramping up of fossil fuel investments in the name of poverty reduction. This while poverty levels increase, corporate profits grow, and the increasing impacts of climate change hit the poor the hardest.
groundWork - Friends of the Earth South Africa will work to expose this agenda at the upcoming United Nations climate negotiations in Durban in November. The launch of Toxic Futures is the first salvo in our campaign.
Can we trust government! All talk no action!
Friday, 24th June 2011. Today, as Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Rejoice Mabudafhasi visits Witbank, we call on her to make a definitive statement on what specific measures she is going to take to ensure that over the next four months of winter communities in the Highveld do not continue to suffer the same pollution fate as they did in 2010. The Highveld is one of South Africa’s most polluted places. From May to August 2010, the South African ambient air pollution standards were exceeded on 570 occasions.
What Africa Expects in Durban: Civil society demands for UN climate talks
BONN - Today, African representatives from non-government groups outlined the urgency of agreeing to deep, legally binding climate pollution reduction targets at UN climate talks. At a press conference hosted by the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), a platform for over 300 civil society groups in 45 African countries,leaders speaking on behalf of trade-unions, gender, and environmental justice groups outlined essential elements of any just outcome from the annual UN climate conference to be held this December in Durban, South Africa.
South Africa's participation in Climate Change negotiations
South Africans are watching how our government prepares to host the UN climate conference in December. South African social movements were at the forefront of the fight against one of the 20th century’s greatest moral injustices: apartheid. Today we stand ready to lead global movements against the most significant moral injustice of the 21st century: climate change.
South Africa's High Carbon Emission Negotiators, UNFCCC failing
15th June 2011 - The UNFCCC international climate change intersession currently underway in Bonn is showing very little progress. The chances of a climate change deal in COP17 that will actually seal a deal that will do something about the problem of rising global greenhouse gas emission are becoming increasingly remote by the day. Why? It seems that vested high-carbon emission interests are capturing the process. In effect, those who financially benefit from high carbon emissions, such as energy companies, are involved in the actual negotiations to reduce emissions. (Earthlife Africa Jhb, groundWork)
Who's fooling who? Government's Clean Fires Campaign nothing more than political spin!
9th June 2011 - Community people, together with groundWork and VEJA meeting in the Vaal Triangle today, question government's commitment to clean air for poor people in South Africa, as they face another polluted winter because government has failed to deliver on their promise of an environment, decent housing and energy that are not harmful to one's health and well-being.
Holcim and environmental justice
A "Meeting for environmental justice and Holcim repudiation" was held on May 5 2011, in the camp set up by the Pro-health Apaxco-Atotonilco Movement to prevent the operation of the waste mixing plant for alternative fuel of Ecoltec company. This facility is a subsidiary of Holcim, the multinational cement company, and has been responsible of a series of pollution incidents that have affected the health of the community, and cost the lives of 11 of its members.
South African Waste Pickers Win International Award
31 March, 2011 - A group of formerly unemployed people who formed a cooperative known as Mooi River Waste Reclaiming received a SEED Award for Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Development. The group, for the past five years, earned a living from recycling other people’s garbage.