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Talking Points on Climate Change and the Environment

Watch eloquent short video by Archbishop Desmond Tutu
"The destruction of the earth’s environment
is the human rights challenge of our time."

  • Global warming and environmental damage from the fossil-fuel industry already affect all of us, although responsibility lies primarily with the rich industrialized countries and the newly industrializing powers. Africa is the most vulnerable continent, but extreme weather and sea-level rise have hit New Orleans and New Jersey as well as Lagos.

  • When industries make decisions based on short-term profits, encouraged by government subsidies to established industries, they systematically discount damages from "externalities." Visible results include the devastation of oil-producing areas in the Niger Delta and of coal-producing areas, whether in South Africa or West Virginia. The longer-term consequences in rising temperatures and more extreme weather will be even more devastating.

  • Action to combat climate change depends in part on decisions made in international conferences, where the primary obstacles to action are the rich countries and the newly industrializing powers. But efforts at many other levels are also of decisive importance. Fossil-fuel divestment campaigns, as they grow and multiply, can affect investment choices. So can technological innovation. Notably, clean energy can already be more cost-effective than large-scale fossil fuel plants in supplying distributed energy access to Africa.

Workers install off-grid solar panels in Kirambo, Rwanda.

Recent bulletins on climate change and the environment


AfricaFocus Bulletin

March 30, 2015  South Africa: Energy Futures Contested
    The energy crisis in South Africa, with regular "load-shedding" due to shortages of power from the monopoly utility Eskom, is now at the top of the political agenda, featuring in President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address in February and in ongoing disputes about who is responsible and when the situation can be fixed. The long-term strategy to exit the crisis and begin a transition to a sustainable energy system is also marked by strong disagreements between utility and government officials and their critics.

March 23, 2015  Africa/Global: Swiss Connections
    An investigation conducted by the Berne Declaration (BD) has revealed how Philia, a Swiss trading company, has been profiting at the expense of the Congo (Brazzaville) oil refinery, Coraf. Coraf is managed by the President's son, Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso, who is a close friend of Philia's sole shareholder, Jean-Philippe Amvame Ndong. The case is an unusually explicit and striking example of the links between corruption in Africa and the lack of transparency and regulation for companies located outside the continent.

March 17, 2015  Africa: Higher Education Must Be Higher Priority
    "In 2011, the average gross rate of tertiary education enrolment in Africa was 8% against a world average of 27%. Even with those low figures, demand for university admission continues to exceed capacity, and public universities are under increasing pressure to admit more students than current staff and infrastructure would allow. ... [even so] In most African countries, the increase in tertiary enrolment has not translated into a comparable improvement in employment opportunities. ... Indeed, there are growing complaints by employers that graduates are poorly prepared for the workplace." - Concept paper for African Higher Education Summit

March 10, 2015  Africa/Global: Falling Short on Climate Finance
    Africa, the continent with warming deviating most rapidly from "normal" conditions, could see climate change adaptation costs rise to US$50 billion per year by 2050, even assuming international efforts keep global warming below 2 degrees C this century, according to a new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report.

More on: politics&human rights|peace&security|health|economy|ict

AfricaFocus Archive: by date | by place | by topic

March 3, 2015  
    East Africa: Water, Wind, and Lake Turkana
February 24, 2015  
    USA/Somalia: Rising Threat to Remittances
February 18, 2015  
    Africa: Privatizing Land and Seeds
February 11, 2015  
    Africa/Global: Archbishop Tutu on Fossil-Fuel Divestment
February 5, 2015  
    Africa/Global: Stopping Capital Losses
January 26, 2015  
    Burkina Faso: Hopes for New Beginnings
January 21, 2015  
    Africa/Global: Ebola Lessons & Questions
January 13, 2015  
    Nigeria: Elections/Security Disconnect
January 6, 2015  
    Sierra Leone: Losing Out
December 15, 2014  
    Africa/Global: Postponing Climate Decisions
December 8, 2014  
    Africa: Reflections from an Elder Statesman
December 1, 2014  
    USA/Nigeria: Uneasy Alliance
November 19, 2014  
    Africa: Past Time for Bandaids
November 11, 2014  
    Africa/Global: Fossil-Fuel Divestment Growing
November 11, 2014  
    Africa/Global: Climate Change Summary Report
November 5, 2014  
    Africa/Global: Public Health, Shared Responsibilities

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Africa News
Mar 30, 2015
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