Get AfricaFocus Bulletin by e-mail!
Format for print or mobile
Africa/Global: People's Test on Climate
July 6, 2015 (150706)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
With less than six months before this year's UN Climate Change
conference in Paris, it is clear that commitments by governments to
action on climate change will fall short of that necessary to keep
global warming under the internationally agreed target of 2 degrees
Celsius, despite recent new pledges by the United States, Brazil,
and China (http://tinyurl.com/qhtfdk9; http://tinyurl.com/q8g3srl).
But, beyond national governments, there are signs of growing
momentum for more rapid "transformational" action. Particularly
notable is the recognition that such action must simultaneously
address economic inequality and development as well as the natural
This recognition is particularly relevant for Africa, where fossil-fuel
companies and much conventional wisdom have posed a false
dichotomy between development and the transition to renewable
energy, claiming that continued reliance on fossil fuels is
essential to promote economic development and address poverty. In
fact, the needed climate transition is imperative both for the sake
of the planet and for the sake of sustainable economic development
that benefits the majority of Africa's population rather than only
foreign interests and local elites.
Such a broader perspective was featured in June, both in the widely
publicized encyclical by Pope Francis and in this year's report from
the Africa Progress Panel headed by former UN Secretary-General Kofi
Annan, entitled "Power, Planet, and People" (http://www.africaprogresspanel.org/). But it is also visible at many
other levels, including among multilateral agencies, civil society
groups, and many private-sector investors as well. And it is
reflected in practical terms in the rapid advances of renewable
energy on the ground, despite failures of governments and the
immense power of vested interests in fossil fuels and business as
Thus the Global Status Report on the status of renewable energies,
also released in June (http://www.ren21.net / direct URL:
http://tinyurl.com/p2uz9mk), noted an 8.5% increase in renewable
energy from 2013 to 2014 and, significantly, a "decoupling" of
positive economic growth (3%) from energy-related CO2 emissions,
which were unchanged in 2014 from 2013 levels.
Another key report released in June is the International Energy
Agency's "World Energy Outlook Special Report 2015: Energy and
Climate Change" (http://www.iea.org/ - direct URL:
http://tinyurl.com/qcpm3sd). This report evaluates the country
pledges to date, finding that these will not ensure a peak in
energy-related CO2 emissions by 2030. In contrast, it proposes a
"bridging" strategy that can reach such a peak turning point by
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains the "People's Test on Climate"
statement by a wide range of international civil society groups,
including the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, as well as two
articles on (1) "off-grid" strategies for energy access and (2) the
rapid growth of windpower for the electric grid in South Africa,
where the existing coal-based strategy continues to demonstrate its
ineffectiveness to prevent energy shortages.
A good summary of the People's Test on Climate and its importance
is the article by Brandon Wu of ActionAid USA. See
For more on the parallel "decline of coal," see
For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on climate change and the
environment, visit http://www.africafocus.org/intro-env.php
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++
The People's Test on Climate 2015
http://peoplestestonclimate.org/ - Direct URL:
Nothing less than a systemic transformation of our societies, our
economies, and our world will suffice to solve the climate crisis
and close the ever-increasing inequality gap.
After over 20 years of stunted and ineffective action to reduce
climate pollution by governments -- particularly in wealthy
countries that have failed to meet their legal and moral
responsibilities -- only urgent and transformative and systemic
change that can address the root causes of the crisis and deliver
what is needed to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees
Celsius, the limit beyond which climate impacts will become
The urgency to keep temperatures down is not just about the planet
and the environment. It is about people, and our capacity as
humanity to secure safe and dignified lives for all.
As social movements, environmental non-governmental organizations,
trade unions and other civil society organizations with deep roots
in communities around the world struggling to cope with the climate
crisis, we take hope from the fact that while the scale of the
challenge is enormous, people already have solutions and
alternatives that work at the scale we need. From decentralized
community-owned renewable energy for mitigation, poverty reduction
and sustainable development, to agro-ecological methods for
adaptation, there already exists a wealth of proven ideas and
experience from which to build a global transformation -- and it is
People's demands and solutions are based in our vision of the world
that recognizes the need to live in harmony with nature, and to
guarantee the fulfillment of human rights for all, including those
of Indigenous Peoples, women, youth and workers.
These people's solutions upset "business as usual" because they
must, in order to lead us towards a more equitable, just and
sustainable world -- but for this very reason, they face serious
barriers. This is why the demands of our Southern people's
movements, which represent the world's communities that are most
vulnerable to climate impacts yet have had no role in creating the
problem, are so critical if we want a better, more just, and
sustainable society. These demands include, but are not limited to:
- Sustainable energy transformation -- redirecting finance from
dirty energy to clean, affordable, reliable and safe renewable
energy, supporting people's solutions including decentralized
community renewable energy systems, banning new dirty energy
projects, ensuring that access to clean, affordable, reliable and
safe renewable energy is a public good, reducing energy consumption
particularly by wealthy elites, and ensuring that reducing poverty
and achieving justice is prioritized throughout the transformation;
- The right to food and water -- ensuring people's access to water
and to land for climate resilient food production, stopping land
grabs and the ongoing conversion of land from food to commodities
like biofuels that are falsely presented as solutions to the climate
crisis, and supporting sustainable agro-ecology and climate
resilient food production systems;
- Justice for impacted people -- securing and building the
resilience of impacted people including reparations for the world's
impoverished and marginalized people who have no role in causing
climate change, yet whose lives and livelihoods are endangered by
its effects, supporting a just transition for workers into the new
environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive economy, and
supporting people- and community-driven adaptation and
Securing our vision in a just and equitable manner cannot be left to
governments' voluntary "good will." Our governments are too heavily
influenced by the entrenched interests whose power, profits and
lifestyles would be impacted by the transformation. The poorest,
most vulnerable and worst impacted are often excluded entirely from
decision-making processes; for any just outcome, space must be
created for inclusive people's participation in decision-making and
in implementation of those decisions at all levels.
With all that said, history is full of examples of people's power
overcoming the power of a few narrow interests.
This year will bring governments back to the climate negotiations,
in Paris, to scale up climate action in the immediate short term,
and to agree upon a new global climate agreement to come into place
post-2020. When measured against the people's demands above, as well
as the imperatives of science, the Paris Summit looks like it will
be very far from what is needed by people or the planet. Instead, it
risks legitimizing the current unjust and unsustainable balance of
power in favor of elites, while only making minor tweaks around the
margins of the status quo.
Yet the balance of power can and will change, because people across
the world are prepared to fight to protect their homes, their right
to energy, their right to food, and their right to a decent job.
That power can be mobilized to come together and make clear demands
of the Paris Summit, to force it to be a signal that the real
transformation we need has arrived.
To meet that test, the Paris Summit must:
- Catalyze immediate, urgent and drastic emission reductions -- in
line with what science and equity require, deliver urgent short-term
actions, building towards a long-term goal that is agreed in Paris,
that shift us away from dirty energy, marking the beginning of the
end of fossil fuels globally, and that keep the global temperature
goal in reach;
- Provide adequate support for transformation -- ensure that the
resources needed, such as public finance and technology transfer,
are provided to support the transformation, especially in vulnerable
and poor countries;
- Deliver justice for impacted people -- enhance the support to
adaptation in a new climate regime, ensure that there will be a
separate mechanism to provide reparations for any loss and damage
that goes beyond our ability to adapt, and make a firm commitment to
secure workers' livelihoods and jobs through a Just Transition; and
- Focus on transformational action -- ensure that renewable and
efficient solutions are emphasized rather than false solutions that
fail to produce the results and protection we need, such as carbon
markets in land and soil, dangerous geoengineering interventions,
Governments and the Paris Summit outcome will be judged on this
fundamental litmus test. But Paris will not only be about a long
series of negotiations under the UNFCCC. Paris will not only be
about what our governments achieve -- or fail to achieve. Paris will
also be the moment that demonstrates that delivering concrete
actions for the global transformation will come from people and not
We see Paris as a beginning rather than an end -- an opportunity to
start connecting people's demands for justice, equality, food, jobs,
and rights, and strengthen the movement in a way that will force
governments to listen and act in the interests of their people and
not in the vested interests of elites. Paris will launch us into
2016 as a year of action -- a year when people's demands and
people's solutions take center stage.
Climate change needs our urgent commitment and action, in global
solidarity. We are continuing to hold corporate and political elites
accountable for their actions on climate change. And our numbers
will grow as the climate movement of movements becomes more and more
united and linked beyond the COP in Paris. We will encourage more
and more citizens to support people's solutions. We will continue
our struggles at local, national, regional and global levels to
ensure that it is people that spearhead the just transformation of
Adriano Campolina, Chief Executive, ActionAid International
Lidy Nacpil, Coordinator, Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and
Maria Teresa Hosse, Facilitator, Bolivian Platform for Climate
Bernd Nilles, Secretary General, CIDSE (network of Catholic
Dr Godwin Uyi Ojo, Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/
Jagoda Munic, Chair, Friends of the Earth International
Dr Kumi Naidoo, International Executive Director, Greenpeace
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union
Demba Dembele, President, LDC Watch (Least Developed Countries
Carolina Amaya Tobar, Executive Director, Mesoamerican Campaign for
Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director, Oxfam International
Mithika Mwenda, Secretary General, Pan African Climate and
Environmental Justice Alliance (PACJA)
May Boeve, Executive Director, 350.org
Why Should Climate Philanthropy Care About Energy Access?
Justin Guay, Program Officer, Climate at Packard Foundation
Huffington Post, July 1, 2015
Investing in clean energy access provides a disruptive opportunity
to revolutionize electricity systems and get on the right side of
the politics of development -- philanthropy just hasn't realized it
To be fair, philanthropy needs to step up its game on climate across
the board. Our investment is woeful -- only 2 percent of all
philanthropic funds are devoted to transitioning to a clean energy
economy and staving off the worst impacts of climate. That's why
some big name foundations are calling on their colleagues to step up
giving, and act on climate.
But it's not just the sheer dollars that matter -- it's also how we
spend them. While we have a lot of work to do to be more strategic
one of our most glaring blindspots is energy access. To turn that
around someone needs to take the time to make the case that spending
scarce climate dollars on energy access will drive transformational
change. So let me give it a try.
Clean Energy Access Gets the Politics Right
For the more politically oriented amongst us let's be overt - the
politics of climate at the global level are broken and they
contaminate everything. We need to proactively seek opportunities to
change those politics by aligning development and climate goals in
an explicit way. Supporting the entrepreneurs working to bring poor
rural communities their first energy services from clean energy
sources like solar home systems and mini-grids aligns renewable
energy with development. It means our solutions to climate are also
the solutions to poverty alleviation,not the obstacle it's
historically been. With exciting new research from the World Bank
suggesting that distributed solar is also driving financial
inclusion we have the opportunity to invest in an intervention that
has cascading development benefits. All of which reframes our issue
in a powerful way: the world's most advanced technology -- clean,
distributed smart grids -- are the most appropriate for the world's
poor. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi understands this, that's
why he promised solar, not coal, for all by 2019.
Clean Energy Access Is Disruptive
In the 21st century where mobile phones are ubiquituous no rural
villager demands, or expects, land line telephones. What's more,
those villagers will increasingly demand access to more
sophisticated communications services like the internet via their
mobile devices. But they struggle to keep their phones charged
thanks to a lack of power which is causing Telecom companies and
their counterparts in the tech industry from Silicon Valley, giants
like Facebook and Google, to lead the drive to electrify the poor.
That constituency realizes the only way to quickly and cheaply power
those devices is not to wait for the centralized dumb grid -- it's
to quickly and nimbly deploy smart distributed generation. More
importantly, the companies leading this charge are doing it with a
potent mixture of mobile money financed distributed clean energy
solutions, super efficiency, and innovative pay-as-you-go business
models that deliver energy as a service. Ultimately, that creates a
clean distributed smart grid that serves the poor first, not last.
Meanwhile the rest of us deal with our 19th century dumb grids and
their entrenched dinosaurs who fend off the future by trying to tax
the sun while they fight for the right to continue to pollute our
air and water.
Clean Energy Access is Mitigation
You'll notice that the direct mitigation piece of this puzzle comes
last. That's because the politics and disruptive potential of these
interventions are the real selling point. But that's not to say
there aren't tons of C02 to be mitigated. Far from it. Take India
where 75 GW of Diesel gen sets are installed which form the
'distributed reliability backbone' to the notoriously unreliable
grid. That total is equivalent to half the country's coal fleet
which is being added to at an incredible clip of 17 GW this year
alone. A consumption whose giant sucking sound evaporates the
country's foreign reserves and decimates the rupee's value.
But while diesel replacement is big, the far more interesting
opportunity lies in the super efficient appliances necessary to
wring services out of pico solar and their rebound effect for the
developed world. No, not that rebound effect -- I'm talking about a
positive effect that makes super efficient TVs (7 watts in off grid
settings) the norm across the globe thanks to the sheer purchasing
power that 1.2 billion consumers wield. Just imagine the US congress
trying to justify appliance standards that are weaker than those in
Bangladesh and you get the sense of the disruptive impact super
efficiency could have on global appliance markets.
All said and done there is quite a case to be made for clean energy
access. But outside the admirable efforts of the Rockefeller
Foundation or the newly announced super efficient appliances work
supported by Climate Works this issue still largely remains under
the radar. It's high time we seized this opportunity and asserted a
vision of the future that puts the needs of the poor first - by
building a clean energy future from the bottom up.
South Africa: Wind Energy No Longer a Minor Player in SA
By Adam Wakefield
News24Wire, July 3, 2015
Wind energy is around half of all renewable energy currently
produced in South Africa. As we lurch from one day of load shedding
to the next, the sector is showing no sign of losing speed, rather
Johan van den Berg, CEO of the SA Wind Energy Association, told
News24 in an interview that 2011 was the year government formally
introduced it into the energy sector, with commercial wind farm
construction beginning in 2013.
Today, wind power contributed around 740 megawatts (MW) of
electricity into the grid, "as a proportion of about 45 000 MW of
all power installed in South Africa".
The average capacity factor for the entire fleet - as wind does not
blow consistently - is currently over 70%.
"In terms of energy delivered, South Africa produces about 2.5% of
what Denmark produces as a proportion of their ultimate electricity
usage. So there's a lot of space for us to still improve," said Van
South Africa is a very large landmass, which is a very positive
starting point. Mapped winds indicated that certain parts of the
republic experienced very good winds by international standards.
"Almost everybody has agreed we can build a wind sector in excess of
20 000 MW and then it depends. You can pick a number somewhat or way
above that," he says.
"20 000 MW is a big windy industry and from there, anything above
that, we will see where it goes. That equates to maybe 7 000 towers
and turbines ultimately, considering that the towers are getting
stronger and more powerful all the time."
U shape of wind
The mapped wind of interest to the industry showed a U shape from
the south, starting 350km to 400km north and somewhat west of Cape
Town, running down the South African coastline to almost the edge of
Winds were also found inland, somewhat surprisingly Van Den Berg
said, in the central Karoo.
"It's a surprisingly good wind area... Bloemfontein will not be your
best place. Pretoria, I think, has the lowest wind speed in South
The second phase of the South African Wind Energy Programme (Sawep),
an initiative with the UN Development Programme which paid for the
mapping, has recently been approved. The rest of the country would
now be mapped, with Van Den Berg expecting some positive surprises.
An advantage of wind power was its relatively short up-time compared
to fossil or nuclear power generation.
It could take three to four years to be ready to bid, with an
environmental impact assessment taking a year and a half within that
period. This has already taken place with many wind projects at the
Wind measures are also done on site, with wind mast set-ups placed
at the same height as the intended turbine for a period of one to
"An international expert then comes and guarantees you a specific
output if you use a specific machine with a specific blade, and you
know exactly what you are going to get," he said.
A giant is built
From bidding, the next phase moved to what is referred to as
financial closure, where construction begins.
"That can maybe be eight to nine months and thereafter, if it's a
small wind farm, you build it in 12 to 14 months."
Very large wind farms were being built in South Africa, "extremely
large by international standards".
"We are generally building 130, 140 MW - 60 large turbines - and
that normally takes about 18 months, which is still the blink of an
eye compared to fossil fuel or nuclear power plants, that take 10 to
The turbines themselves were very big, though only around 5% of land
at a site or farm is used by the end of construction, including
infrastructure and roads. The rest remains available for use as it
Each turbine is approximately four to six blade lengths apart, with
the rectangular foundation being around 24 square metres in size.
Once covered, the base of the turbine itself is around 2x2 metres.
"There's an anecdote about a farmer who assured the developer that
he had his workers ready to guard against theft when the blades
came, not appreciating that the blade is 50m long, and the diameter
100m, sometimes 117m," Van Den Berg said with a smile.
"The tower is normally about double the height of the blade, so the
tower can be from 80m to 120m. It's a large piece of infrastructure,
with the nacelle weighing around 120 tonnes."
Boosting local communities
A feature of the local wind energy industry is how wind power
producers plough back a small percentage of their profits into
surrounding local communities, speaking to the National Development
Plan's developmental state and public/private partnership.
"The relationship between ourselves and Government's IPP
(independent power producers') office is an early successful example
of that," Van Den Berg said.
"That's actually starting to work. A lot of people in other
industries got this wrong, but I think we are mostly getting it
The need in deep rural communities was very strong, with the
prerogative being to try and develop those communities.
"I think the way in which the programme was structured, where you
have to invest around 2% of your turnover into those communities,
was a very far sighted move," Van Den Berg said.
"I probably spend close to half my time on that aspect, to make sure
everybody is coordinated and pulling in the right direction."
SAWEA and its partners were trying to see which examples were the
good ones to follow, and even internationally, when Van den Berg
went to conferences overseas, this is the aspect people were most
"If you are an engineer, you love mechanical stuff, then building a
turbine is very interesting, but then the next one looks pretty much
the same and so on," he said.
"In South Africa we're building the same things that other people
are building in other countries, but we're doing it in a very
different way and in a very different context and that part is
AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication
providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a
particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus
Bulletin is edited by William Minter.
AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at email@example.com. Please
write to this address to subscribe or unsubscribe to the bulletin,
or to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about
reposted material, please contact directly the original source
mentioned. For a full archive and other resources, see