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Africa/Global: The Heat is On! Time to Act!

AfricaFocus Bulletin
November 2, 2021 (2021-11-02)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

The warnings are consistent and devastating, across the political spectrum from the International Monetary Fund from climate activists mobilizing at the climate summit in Glasgow and around the world. There are only eight years to have any chance of bending the curve of fossil fuel emissions sufficiently to avoid mounting climate chaos. Predictions are also consistent that the government officials gathered at the summit will continue to let promises and belated minimal policy shifts substitute for significant action.

It is clear that governments will not take the lead. Nor will energy companies, whether private or state-run themselves turn away from short-term profits to a sustainable transition to renewable issues. More and more, governments and corporations are talking the talk about the danger. But without immense pressures on all fronts, they will continue the walk towards a planetary apocalypse until it is too late to step back.

In addition to those pressures, warn Indigenous climate activists who are increasingly taking the lead to save the planet, those who will be affected most and are already paying the price in lost lives and livelihoods must also be willing to take direct action to block any new fossil-fuel development on the ground.

Actions against pipeline projects in the United States and Canada have already shown that indigenous movements protecting their land are already key to the fight against fossil-fuels. They have the material impact of delaying or stopping new projects equivalent to 24% of annual greenhouse gas emissions of the two countries. And they have begun to build a new vision of caretaking in place of the current extractivist model of exploitation of natural resources for profit.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin highlights links to sources documenting the current trajectory and provides excerpts from two key recent publications: Indigenous Resistance against Carbon and The Red Deal.

If you prefer videos to reading through more words, take a look at these 2 short videos. The first is one minute long and comes from the UN Environmental Programme. The second, 8.32 minutes long, was recorded during the visit of UN Rapporteur on the Rights to Indigenous Peoples to the Standing Rock Sioux in 2017.

If you represent an organization, please sign on to this statement, signed by over 700 civil society organizations around the world as of November 1, 2021

Global Call for Climate Action
“We don’t want to read about your promises to supposedly balance the emissions budget by mid-century, using techno-fixes, geoengineering, carbon markets, and accounting tricks. We want to know what you are doing today to eliminate the major sources of emissions — fossil fuel production and use, deforestation, and industrial agriculture — which are not only warming the planet, but also poisoning frontline and fenceline communities and polluting our collective environment. And we want to know what you will do from now on, tomorrow, and every year to come, to strengthen resilience, center justice, and support communities in a just and equitable transition to a fossil-free future that secures human rights, livelihoods, work, and a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment for present and future generations.”

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on climate and the environment, visit

This AfricaFocus also contains a set of links to readers to follow the rapidly changing status of popular resistance to last week's coup in Sudan. And it highlights two books featured in the AfricaFocus Bookshop: one a major new book by Howard French on the role of Africa in the making of the modern world, and the other a science-fiction novel by Kim Stanley Robinson envisioning a near future alternative to the current downward path of the global response to the climate crisis.

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++


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For daily summaries and analysis, see this series of articles on African Arguments.

Recent articles include: (Nov. 1) (Oct. 31) (Oct. 27)


AfricaFocus Bulletin is an affiliate of the non-profit You can access the AfricaFocus Bookshop either through the AfricaFocus Portal or directly on

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Featured Books

A must-read on the making of "the West." Combines deep research and analysis with compelling journalistic description of places he writes about.

Realistic and politically powerful science-fiction about the near-future and how to be serious about stopping global warming before it is too late."


Urgent warnings proliferate but world leaders still not ready to lead

Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, DC

Sustainable Energy for All (SeforALL), Vienna

Quincy Institute and Responsible Statecraft, Washington, DC

Rainforest Action Network, San Francisco

UN Environmental Programme, Nairobi

Foreign Affairs, New York City

Climate Action Tracker, Germany

International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC

Civil Society COP26 Coalition


The Heat is On

Climate Action Press Release

UNEP, Nairobi, 26 Oct 2021

Nairobi, 26 October 2021 – New and updated climate commitments fall far short of what is needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, leaving the world on track for a global temperature rise of at least 2.7°C this century, according to the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) latest Emissions Gap Report 2021: The Heat Is On.

The report, now in its 12th year, finds that countries’ updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – and other commitments made for 2030 but not yet submitted in an updated NDC – only take an additional 7.5 per cent off predicted annual greenhouse gas emissions in 2030, compared to the previous round of commitments. Reductions of 30 per cent are needed to stay on the least-cost pathway for 2°C and 55 per cent for 1.5°C.

Released ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), the latest round of climate talks taking place in Glasgow, the report finds that net-zero pledges could make a big difference. If fully implemented, these pledges could bring the predicted global temperature rise to 2.2°C, providing hope that further action could still head off the most-catastrophic impacts of climate change. However, net-zero pledges are still vague, incomplete in many cases, and inconsistent with most 2030 NDCs.

“Climate change is no longer a future problem. It is a now problem,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP. “To stand a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, we have eight years to almost halve greenhouse gas emissions: eight years to make the plans, put in place the policies, implement them and ultimately deliver the cuts. The clock is ticking loudly.”

As of 30 September 2021, 120 countries, representing just over half of global greenhouse gas emissions, had communicated new or updated NDCs. In addition, three G20 members have announced other new mitigation pledges for 2030.

To have any chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, the world has eight years to take an additional 28 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent (GtCO2e) off annual emissions, over and above what is promised in the updated NDCs and other 2030 commitments. To put this number into perspective, carbon dioxide emissions alone are expected to reach 33 gigatonnes in 2021. When all other greenhouse gases are taken into account, annual emissions are close to 60 GtCO2e. So, to have a chance of reaching the 1.5°C target, we need to almost halve greenhouse gas emissions. For the 2°C target, the additional need is lower: a drop in annual emissions of 13 GtCO2e by 2030.

Alok Sharma, incoming COP26 President, said the report underlined why countries need to show ambitious climate action at COP26: “As this report makes clear, if countries deliver on their 2030 NDCs and net zero commitments which have been announced by the end of September, we will be heading towards average global temperature rises of just above 2C. Complementary analyses suggest that the commitments made in Paris would have capped the rise in temperature to below 4°C.

“So there has been progress, but not enough,” he added.” That is why we especially need the biggest emitters, the G20 nations, to come forward with stronger commitments to 2030 if we are to keep 1.5c in reach over this critical decade.”

Zeroing in on net-zero

Net-zero pledges – and their effective execution – could make a big difference, the authors find, but current plans are vague and not reflected in NDCs. A total of 49 countries plus the EU have pledged a net-zero target. This covers over half of global domestic greenhouse gas emissions, over half of GDP and a third of the global population. Eleven targets are enshrined in law, covering 12 per cent of global emissions.

If made robust and implemented fully, net-zero targets could shave an extra 0.5°C off global warming, bringing the predicted temperature rise down to 2.2°C. However, many of the national climate plans delay action until after 2030, raising doubts over whether net-zero pledges can be delivered. Twelve G20 members have pledged a net-zero target, but they are still highly ambiguous. Action also needs to be frontloaded to make it in line with 2030 goals.

“The world has to wake up to the imminent peril we face as a species,” Andersen added. “Nations need to put in place the policies to meet their new commitments, and start implementing them within months. They need to make their net-zero pledges more concrete, ensuring these commitments are included in NDCs, and action brought forward. They then need to get the policies in place to back this raised ambition and, again, start implementing them urgently.

“It is also essential to deliver financial and technological support to developing nations – so that they can both adapt to the impacts of climate change already here and set out on a low-emissions growth path.”

The potential of methane and market mechanisms

Every year, the Emissions Gap Report looks at the potential of specific sectors. This year, it focuses on methane and market mechanisms. Reduction of methane emissions from the fossil fuel, waste and agriculture sectors can contribute to closing the emissions gap and reduce warming in the short term.

Methane emissions are the second largest contributor to global warming. The gas has a global warming potential over 80 times that of carbon dioxide over a 20-year horizon; it also has a shorter lifetime in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide – only twelve years, compared to up to hundreds for CO2 – so cuts to methane will limit temperature increase faster than cuts to carbon dioxide.

Available no- or low-cost technical measures alone could reduce anthropogenic methane emissions by around 20 per cent per year. Implementation of all measures, along with broader structural and behavioural measures, could reduce anthropogenic methane emissions by approximately 45 per cent.

Carbon markets, meanwhile, have the potential to reduce costs and thereby encourage more ambitious reduction pledges, but only if rules are clearly defined, are designed to ensure that transactions reflect actual reductions in emissions, and are supported by arrangements to track progress and provide transparency.

Revenues earned through these markets could fund mitigation and adaptation solutions domestically and in vulnerable nations where the burdens of climate change are greatest.

COVID-19 recovery opportunity largely missed

Finally, the report finds that the opportunity to use COVID-19 fiscal rescue and recovery spending to stimulate the economy while backing climate action has been missed in most countries.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a drop in global CO2 emissions of 5.4 per cent in 2020. However, CO2 and non-CO2 emissions in 2021 are expected to rise again to a level only slightly lower than the record high in 2019.

Only around 20 per cent of total recovery investments up to May 2021 are likely to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Of this spending, almost 90 per cent is accounted for by six G20 members and one permanent guest.

COVID-19 spending has been far lower in low-income economies (USD 60 per person) than advanced economies (USD 11,800 per person). Gaps in finance are likely to exacerbate gaps in vulnerable nations on climate resilience and mitigation measures.


New from US-Africa Bridge Building Project

AfricaFocus Bulletin is one of the strategic allies of the project, which focuses on transnational solidarity and tax justice. In 2021, AfricaFocus editor William Minter has collaborated with the project as the principal editor for a series of web posts on transnational solidarity. To date, there are 12 posts in the series, which began in April 2021.

In an earlier essay in this series, Donna Katzin stressed that the goal of disinvestment of resources from harmful activities must go together with reinvestment of resources in activities that have beneficial results for the future. This is crystal clear in the urgent need for transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The cost of letting promises and belated minimal policy shifts substitute for significant action will be high.

In mid-October Indigenous climate justice advocates led a broad coalition in week-long demonstrations in Washington, DC to urge President Biden to take executive actions within his power to stop ongoing new fossil-fuel production projects.  Although thousands participated, 655 arrested, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs occupied by Indigenous protesters for the first time since 1972, the event was hardly covered in national news outlets.

That's why Indigenous activists are not only protesting, petitioning, and fighting in the courts. They are also taking direct action to stop fossil fuel projects and building a new global vision based on caregiving rather than limitless extraction of resources for short-term profit for a few.

        — William Minter

From Standing Rock to Line 3: Indigenous Action to Save the Planet

Indigenous Resistance against Carbon

August 2021

Indigenous Environmental Network

Oil Change International

[Excerpts from executive summary below. Full report available at links above]

Indigenous Resistance Against Carbon seeks to uplift the work of countless Tribal Nations, Indigenous water protectors, land defenders, pipeline fighters, and many other grassroots formations who have dedicated their lives to defending the sacredness of Mother Earth and protecting their inherent rights of Indigenous sovereignty and self determination. In this effort, Indigenous Peoples have developed highly effective campaigns that utilize a blended mix of non-violent direct action, political lobbying, multimedia, divestment, and other tactics to accomplish victories in the fight against neoliberal projects that seek to destroy our world via extraction.

In this report, we demonstrate the tangible impact these Indigenous campaigns of resistance have had in the fight against fossil fuel expansion across what is currently called Canada and the United States of America. More specifically, we quantify the metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions that have either been stopped or delayed in the past decade due to the brave actions of Indigenous land defenders. Adding up the total, indigenous resistance has stopped or delayed greenhouse gas pollution equivalent to at least one-quarter of annual U.S. and Canadian emissions.

Our aim is two-fold: First, that Indigenous land defenders are emboldened to see the collective results of their efforts and utilize this information as a resource to garner further support. Second, that settler nation-state representatives, organizations, institutions, and individuals recognize the impact of Indigenous leadership in confronting climate chaos and its primary drivers. We hope that such settlers, allies or not, come to stand with Indigenous Peoples and honor the inherent rights of the first peoples of Turtle Island — the land currently called North America — by implementing clear policies and procedures grounded in Free, Prior and Informed Consent, and by ending fossil fuel expansion once and for all. . . .

Indigenous Rights and Responsibilities Framework

Indigenous social movements across Turtle Island have been pivotal in the fight for climate justice. From the struggle against the Cherry Point coal export terminal in Lummi territory to the fights against pipelines crossing critical waterways, Indigenous land defenders have exercised their rights and responsibilities to not only stop fossil fuel projects in their tracks, but establish precedents to build successful social justice movements. The essential backbone of these movements is grounded in an Indigenous Rights framework.

This Indigenous Rights and Responsibilities approach is based upon the concepts of Indigenous Sovereignty, which exist regardless of the actions of settler nation-states. Indigenous Sovereignty endures as long as Indigenous Peoples endure, and understanding these concepts illuminates why advocacy to prevent the extraction, production, processing, and release of carbon is based not solely on the notion of inherent rights, but on the responsibility and obligations of Indigenous Peoples and Tribal Nations to the land itself. . . .

Destructive actions like fossil fuel extraction and the construction of fossil fuel infrastructure on Indigenous territories, lands, and waterways directly attack traditional Indigenous knowledge by seeking to untether spiritual ways, languages, cultural practices, legal systems, and social, economic, and legal systems from relationship with those lands and water. An Indigenous Rights and Responsibilities framework links the struggle to protect the land with the ever present struggle to resist settler nation state acts of violence and colonization fueled by an extractive economic system.

By resisting such acts, Indigenous land defenders and Nations disrupt the goals of the world’s most powerful institutions — nation-states and multinational corporations. This is done with a strategic framework that protects the land, builds collective power, confronts white supremacy, and challenges tenets of capitalism and Eurocentric materialism. These fights demonstrate how a movement built upon an Indigenous Rights framework far exceeds the goals of environmental protection and provides a road map to decolonizing our current economic paradigm.

Whether by physically disrupting construction, legally challenging projects, or effecting procedural delays, Indigenous land defenders and Nations utilize a multi-tiered approach to resist fossil fuel projects. These tactics demonstrate that Indigenous Rights and Responsibilities are far more than rhetorical devices — they are tangible structures impacting the viability of fossil fuel expansion. . . .

[more, including links to additional resources]

Counting Up the Impact

To assess the scale of Indigenous resistance against carbon, we begin by calculating the amount of greenhouse gas pollution each project would create. Most of these assessments were conducted by Oil Change International, with certain exceptions drawn from other sources (see Appendix for details).

We examined only the reported climate impact of specific pipelines, tar sands mines, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. . . . For scale, we compare the climate impacts of projects facing Indigenous resistance over the last decade to 2019 estimates of total combined greenhouse gas pollution from the United States and Canada — 6.56 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). . . .

Victories in infrastructure fights alone represent the carbon equivalent of 12 percent of annual U.S. and Canadian pollution, or 779 million metric tons CO2e. Ongoing struggles equal 12 percent of these nations’ annual pollution, or 808 million metric tons CO2e. If these struggles prove successful, this would mean Indigenous resistance will have stopped greenhouse gas pollution equivalent to nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of annual total U.S. and Canadian emissions.

That 24 percent, equaling 1.587 billion metric tons CO2e, is the equivalent pollution of approximately 400 new coal-fired power plants — more than are still operating in the United States and Canada — or roughly 345 million passenger vehicles — more than all vehicles on the road in these countries. . . .

[more, including links to additional resources]

Create Jobs: Heal Our Planet

Excerpted from The Red Deal: Heal Our Planet (PDF available for download)

There is no hope for restoring the planet’s fragile and dying ecosystems without Indigenous liberation. This isn’t an exaggeration; it’s simply the truth. Indigenous people understand the choice that confronts us: decolonization or extinction. We have unapologetically renewed our bonds with the earth by implementing our intellectual traditions in our movements for decolonization. There is no turning back; these bonds are sacred and will never be broken. This is why Indigenous water protectors and land defenders throughout the world are criminalized and assassinated on a daily basis. We have chosen life,  therefore we’ve been marked for death.

Despite this grim reality, Indigenous people continue to caretake the land even under threat of daily attack. Like mothers, nurses, and educators, Indigenous water protectors and land defenders perform one of the most important types of labor we depend upon as a species for social and biological reproduction: caretaking. Humanity would not exist without caretakers. But caretaking is labor. It takes work to plant crops. It takes work to hunt. It takes work to raise children. It takes work to clean homes. It takes work to break down a buffalo. It takes work to learn the properties of medicines.

Healing the planet is ultimately about creating infrastructures of caretaking that will replace infrastructures of capitalism. Capitalism is contrary to life. Caretaking promotes life. As we note throughout the Red Deal, caretaking is at the center of contemporary Indigenous movements for decolonization and liberation. We therefore look to these movements for guidance on building infrastructures of caretaking that have the potential to produce caretaking economies and caretaking jobs now and in the future.

We also look to the infrastructure of caretaking that is currently emerging where capitalist nation-states have failed to save lives from COVID-19. Under the current system of global capitalism, caretaking is undervalued and often unrecognized as a form of labor. Caretakers like mothers and water protectors make up a huge percentage of workers who produce the social and material means by which we live, yet they’re not paid. In a world shaped by pandemic, caretakers have become the most important sector of workers, saving people’s lives and keeping whole families and communities afloat.

Mutual aid networks populated by caretakers are proliferating, providing relief to the most vulnerable and paving the way for robust caretaking economies to potentially replace the crumbling system of global capitalism. Current mutual aid efforts are neither state sanctioned nor state-funded; they are entirely people-led and the result of working class solidarity between nurses, service providers, students, domestic workers, migrant farmers, and families. Mutual aid networks affirm life by caretaking humanity rather than denying life by abandoning and exploiting humanity. However, the monumental challenge that confronts us is how to turn caretaking labor into life- affirming mass movements that can topple global capitalism once the emergency conditions of the pandemic lift. Only when we are able to mount a real threat to the hegemony of global capitalism through such movements will we be able to heal the planet.

[more, including links to additional resources]

Area 1: Clean Sustainable Energy Why is this important?

The world is transitioning from fossil fuels to clean and renewable energies, but not fast enough. Resource extraction is still ravaging Indigenous, Black, migrant, and other-than-human communities. The Amazon forest fire of 2019 resulted in the burning of over 2,000,000 acres and the assassination of Guajajara Indigenous leader and land defender, Paulo Paulino, all in the name of mining and logging. In early 2020 Canada invaded sovereign Wet'suwet'en territory to remove Unist’ot’en land defenders who had successfully stopped construction of the Coastal GasLink Pipeline for close to a decade. And the Navajo Nation is still one of largest resource colonies in the United States, supplying energy through coal and natural gas conversion to some of the largest cities in the American West while many of its own citizens live without basic infrastructure like clean water and electricity.

For Indigenous and poor communities throughout Turtle Island, the fracking revolution of the past decade has been particularly violent. Fracking is a type of drilling that injects chemicals and water into the ground to break up underlying shale rock, releasing the oil and natural gas contained within it.

Fracking produces more natural gas than crude oil for the US economy; two- thirds of natural gas in the United States comes from fracking, while approximately fifty percent of the nation’s crude oil is procured through the same method. Corporations like TC Energy--formerly TransCanada, the corporation that built the Dakota Access Pipeline--claim that natural gas is one of the world’s cleanest and safest energy sources. Natural gas is often called ‘clean’ because it emits 50 percent less carbon than coal when you burn it.

Governments like the state of New Mexico have partnered with fracking corporations to create shiny PR campaigns about the benefits of natural gas as a bridge fuel that will help the planet transition from dirty fuel sources like coal into zero-net carbon renewables like solar. Native people know the truth about this so called ‘clean’ energy source. While the natural gas boom has created billions in profits for extractive corporations, governments, and investors, the fracking required to extract natural gas from below the earth’s surface has devastated Indigenous communities in eastern Navajo. Infrastructure like the Coastal GasLink Pipeline that carries natural gas from fracking fields to ports for sale violate Wet’suwet’en sovereignty. And the explosion of temporary fracking labor in the Bakken Oil Shale region has increased rape and human trafficking by oil workers of Indigenous women and girls from nations like the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara.

[more, including links to additional resources]

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. For an archive of previous Bulletins, see,

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