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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

February 24, 2015  USA/Somalia: Rising Threat to Remittances
    When President Obama addressed the White House Conference on Countering Violent Extremism last week, the media buzz focused on his message that it was a counterproductive error to equate Islam and terrorism. Some critics also pointed out the contradictions in trying to win hearts and minds by parsing language while continuing to fuel terrorism with drone strikes and collaboration with repressive regimes. Virtually invisible, however, was the deep collateral damage from the "financial war on terror," which continues to impede remittances from Somali immigrants needed both for survival and economic development in their homeland.

February 18, 2015  Africa: Privatizing Land and Seeds
    2012 by the eight most industrialised countries to mobilise private capital for investment in African agriculture. To be accepted into the programme, African governments are required to make important changes to their land and seed policies. ... [for example] Despite the fact that more than 80% of all seed in Africa is still produced and disseminated through 'informal' seed systems (on-farm seed saving and unregulated distribution between farmers), there is no recognition in the New Alliance programme of the importance of farmer-based systems of saving, sharing, exchanging and selling seeds." - Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa and GRAIN, January 2015

February 11, 2015  Africa/Global: Archbishop Tutu on Fossil-Fuel Divestment
    "The destruction of the earth's environment is the human rights challenge of our time. ... The most devastating effects are visited on the poor, those with no involvement in creating the problem. A deep injustice. Just as we argued in the 1980s that those who conducted business with apartheid South Africa were aiding and abetting an immoral system, today we say nobody should profit from the rising temperatures, seas and human suffering caused by the burning of fossil fuels." Archbishop Desmond Tutu

February 5, 2015  Africa/Global: Stopping Capital Losses
    "Commercial activities are by far the largest contributor to illicit financial flows (IFFs), followed by organized crime, then public sector activities. Corrupt practices play a key role in facilitating these outflows. The sources of IFFs are from within our continent, and the fundamental responsibility for eliminating the sources rests with the governments of African States. Therefore, the Panel calls for the African Union to take leadership in ensuring that Africa takes the necessary measures to curtail and indeed eliminate all avenues for IFFs." - High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, February 2015

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

AfricaFocus Archive: by date | by place | by topic

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
October 30, 2014  
    South Africa: In Africa? Or Not?
October 20, 2014  
    USA/Africa: Decent Work Agenda
October 14, 2014  
    USA/Africa: New Statistics on Immigrant Communities
October 7, 2014  
    Africa: Ebola Perspectives
September 22, 2014  
    Africa: Climate Action & Economic Growth

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