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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

August 3, 2015  Africa/Global: Climate Change Roundup
    Coal is the most damaging of fossil fuels, both for human health and for the planet. Although it still dominates in some countries, including South Africa, the case against coal is rapidly gaining ground around the world. On business grounds as well, coal is losing its competitive advantage. 2015, many are suggesting, may be the beginning of the end for coal.

July 29, 2015  USA/Africa: Obama Visit Roundup
    In analyzing high-profile presidential visits, it is difficult to sort out symbolism from substance in the sheer volume of news coverage and commentary. And despite the flurry of announcement of "deals" at each stop, the main lines of policy are rarely altered and often reflect continuity not only within one presidential administration but also from one administration to another. The content of private conversations of lower-level officials as well as others involved in the visits may be just as significant as the formal meetings of presidents. Even more significant may be the issues not discussed because common assumptions go unquestioned on both sides.

July 21, 2015  Africa/Global: "Stop The Bleeding"
    With the exception of inclusion of a statement promising to address "illicit financial flows," the outcome document of the Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa (July 13-16) broke little new ground. Significantly, rich countries vetoed action on a greater role for the United Nations in setting international tax standards, preserving that role for the club of the OECD countries dominated by the United States and Europe. But civil society momentum for more significant action is continuing to grow, as was marked by the launch of the "Stop The Bleeding" campaign at a continent-wide gathering in Nairobi in June.

July 14, 2015  Burundi: Diplomacy Falling Short
    As Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni travels to Burundi for yet another attempt to mediate in the crisis caused by the determination of President Pierre Nkurunziza to seek a third term in the elections now scheduled for July 21, it is clear that international diplomatic efforts are still failing to reverse increasing repression and escalation of violence. Despite multiple mediators and international declarations of concern, most recently calling for disarmament of the pro-government militias and commitment to a government of national unity, the incumbent president has good reason to conclude that he can continue to resist the pleas of his international critics as well as to repress internal opposition.

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

AfricaFocus Archive: by date | by place | by topic

July 6, 2015  
    Africa/Global: People's Test on Climate
June 30, 2015  
    South Africa: Marikana Perspectives, 2
June 30, 2015  
    South Africa: Marikana Perspectives, 1
June 22, 2015  
    Africa: AIDS Struggle Continues
June 15, 2015  
    Eritrea: "Rule of Fear, Not Law"
June 2, 2015  
    Africa/Global: Capital Flows in Context
June 2, 2015  
    Africa/Global: Tax Justice & Inequality
May 25, 2015  
    Africa/Global: Africa, Race, and World Order
May 18, 2015  
    Africa/Global: Decarbonizing Development?
May 11, 2015  
    West Africa: Ebola Down But Not Out
May   5, 2015  
    Africa/Global: Renewables Gaining Ground
April 27, 2015  
    Burundi: On the Brink?
April 22, 2015  
    South Africa: Saying No to Xenophobia
April 14, 2015  
    Europe/Africa: Deaths at Sea
April 8, 2015  
    Garissa: Not Just Numbers
March 30, 2015  
    South Africa: Energy Futures Contested

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Africa News
Aug 30, 2015
AllAfrica | Conflict, Peace and Security
South Sudan: Uganda to Pull Out of South Sudan
Nigeria: Air Force Plane Crashes in Kaduna
Central African Republic: Militia Frees Scores of Child Soldiers From Ranks
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