Environment: Bali, Nuclear Energy and Green views from Africa

Avaaz climate change virtual marchThe climate change talks in Bali have been at the forefront of many blogs around the world. A worldwide protest was held on the 8th of Dec to call attention to climate change and to urge the leaders to work together in tackling the climate change problem. A map of the protests was created by the global online activism group Avaaz and can be seen here. In Sub Saharan Africa, particularly South Africa; bloggers wrote of the Bali talks, nuclear energy, and some shared tips on green living, with practical ideas to incorporate into everyday life.

Urban Sprout posts a handy ‘Bali Acronym buster’ to help the average reader understand the meanings behind the many acronyms on the UN climate change website. The most common acronym you might see when reading about climate change is COP13, which he explained as

COP 13 – The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the “supreme body” of the Convention, i.e. its highest decision-making authority. It is an association of all the countries that are Parties to the Convention. The COP meets every year, unless the Parties decide otherwise. COP 13 at Bali is the 13th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC.

Rory discusses the politics and considerations that the COP has to take into account, noting that ‘development equity is the key to climate negotiations’.

One of the sticking points in the Bali COP 13 climate talks is the impact of agreements on trade, and how climate mitigation strategies affect economic and social challenges particularly in developing countries.

Rory also writes of a green revolution that is slowly building up in Capetown South Africa, despite a lack of legal regulations or framework for green buildings. He cites two developments that incorporate alternative energy solutions and green building techniques, adding that

The green building revolution will be supported by the Green Building Council of South Africa, which is developing a South African accreditation system, but in the absence of a legal framework the real force for change is the investing public.

Glenn Ashton of EkoGaia does a ‘meta-analysis’ of sorts, positing that the underlying problem of climate change is (in part) the economic model of ‘capitalism 2.0′ and that new ideas are needed in thinking of solutions to climate change. He presents the idea of capitalism 3.0 adding;

We need a new system. I am not saying here that Capitalism 3.0 is the final solution. What I am saying is that it is one truly constructive part of a shift towards a final solution. But the true final solution must include bringing corporate control of global resources under democratic control. If we fail to manage this, we fail to gain any proper control of the global ecosystem degradation in a manner that even begins to approach a meaningful solution.

Omar Barsawad considers the effects of global warming on Africa, and also the remarks of Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni at a past African Union Summit.

When some times back, at an African Union summit, Yoweri Museveni, the President of Uganda, declared that Climate Change is an act of aggression by the wealthier countries and that Africa should be compensated – most observers, then, simply ignored him. But, as it is now, and considering the recent predictions by the IPCC on how gravely Africa will be affected by Global Warming – Museveni had very good reasons to say what he did: Africa, the poorest continent and the least consumer, will suffer most due to Climate Change.

He ends on a hopeful note, urging

Africa's own politicians and leaders should, and need to, show: practical, constructive leadership with foresight, in what could turn out to be Africa's greatest challenge and gravest danger since slavery: Climate Change. Hopefully, too, the ongoing negotiations in Bali, will come up with positive results and a way forward to save our planet from the devastating effects of Global Warming.

Andreas of the Antidote blog highlights a new documentary called ‘Uranium Road’, which is being screened in Capetown. He notes that it will likely generate some serious debate and invites readers to join in the discussion of nuclear energy in South Africa.

Dax went to watch the documentary, and posts a review of it, stating in part…

The main thrust of the documentary was demonstrating how nuclear energy in apartheid times was shrouded in secrecy and the government used it for profit and for weapons. When the ANC government came into power, before the actually developed a nuclear policy they stated that everything would be done with public input and transparency. Uranium Road then goes on to show how that has not happened and that it is still shrouded in secrecy and there is still very little public participation.

Whenever there is a lack of transparency I become very suspicious. The fact that the government and industry is being so secrective makes me worry. When they fast track environmental studies and subsidise the research 20x more than alternative fuels, I get very worried.

In a previous post on nuclear energy, Dax commiserates on the influence of money on decisions regarding nuclear energy in South Africa.

The next ride we’re being taken on (well, there have been many but this is the next one I want to talk about) is nuclear power. I’m not going to go into the details here, but it is abundantly clear (read 10 reasons here) that nuclear power is not the solution to our energy problems in SA. However, because some companies and people stand to make a ton of money, you can bet your bottom dollar that your tax money will be paying for the construction of the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor. Who cares about what’s right for the people, who cares about what’s right for the environment, as long as some powerful people can make lots of money we are going to go for it.

This really frustrates me.

Also from South Africa, environment.co.za posts pictures of felled Modjadji Cycads. Modjadji CycadsAs explained in the post, the reason given for the cutting down of the cycads is to make way for pedestrians to access barbecue areas (Braais) during the upcoming 2010 football world cup. The enviro admin who posted the pictures asks

How many more horrors will be instituted in the name of 2010?

Treevolution lauds the actions of a shareholder activist who spoke up during the AGM (Annual General Meeting) of SASOL, a large petrochemical company in South Africa.

Treevolution is thrilled with shareholder activist Theo Botha for raising concerns about Sasol’s level of commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions at the petrochemical giant’s AGM last Friday.

A report in Business Day said Botha had pointed out that the company, which is the second biggest carbon dioxide emitter in South Africa after Eskom, had as yet made no capital commitments to address environmental issues, while its shareholders had received dividends worth R5.6-billion this year.

“Shareholders have to acknowledge that this company is making substantial profits but is damaging our environment. This damage has a knock-on effect on the community,” Botha was quoted as saying.

Treevolution also posts some tips for green living, suggesting “Don’t throw away glass containers such as bottles and jars. Glass is not biodegradable, but it is 100-percent recyclable.” The startling statistic though is this:

Only 140,000 tons, or 20 percent, of all glass containers produced annually in South Africa are retrieved for recycling. About 550,000 tons of waste glass still finds its way into our landfills.

Manufacturing Hub.co.za posts on how to keep abreast of ones’ carbon footprint, highlighting a site that has a free tool for calculating someones’ carbon footprint.

Coda has been collecting tips on green living and adding more information to the tips as he learns more about how to ‘live green’. In this post, Coda looks at the statistics around the usage of bottled water, including facts about the quality of water in South Africa, relative to other countries. He includes some disturbing facts about bottled water, one of which is

With no residual disinfectant present in bottled water (it's only disinfected at source), microorganisms are free to grow and multiply in the water once it leaves the source. As a result, it has been shown that microorganisms grow in the bottles after bottling and while they stand on shop shelves.

From Kenya comes an idea from entrepreneur John Wesonga, who sees potential in crowdsourcing to solve problems in Africa.

Africa's problems are many, and the solutions to these problems can be found in its people, crowd sourcing may help with tackling such important issues as the environment, where the communities that are affected the most may be used to come up with solutions that can then be implemented.

We conclude with a little humor courtesy of Reluctant Memsahib who describes a jaunt involving her husband, some earnest Japanese and an environment minister in 23 4X4 landcruisers; ‘Only In Africa’.


Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.