|Title||The African Climate Connection|
|Date released (year)||2011|
|Production company||The African Climate Connection|
|Link to film|
|Synopsis||During the UN Climate Talks taking place in Durban, South Africa, this November, grassroots groups will connect with each other – and with the conference itself – at African-themed events around the UK.|
|Reviews/discussion||Durban COP17: failures in the making | by Patrick Bond:
The failure of Durban’s COP17 – a veritable “Conference of Polluters” – is certain, but the nuance and spin are also important. Binding emissions-cut commitments under the Kyoto Protocol are impossible given Washington’s push for an alternate architecture that is also built upon sand. The devils in the details over climate finance and technology include an extension of private-sector profit-making opportunities at public expense, plus bizarre new technologies that threaten planetary safety.
Politically, the overall orientation of global climate policy managers, especially from the US State Department and World Bank, eventually will be to displace the main process to the G20. This did not happen in Cannes because of the Greek and Italian economic crises, but is likely in future. It entails Washington’s rejection of any potential overall UN solution to the climate crisis – which in any case is a zero-possibility in the near future because of the terribly adverse power balance – and the UN’s dismissal of civil society’s varied critiques of market strategies. The COP negotiators will also reject climate justice movement’s strategies to keep fossil fuels in the ground and its demands for state-subsidised, community-controlled, transformative energy, transport, production, consumption and disposal systems.
The Cancun Summut
Nothing will be different in Durban, but in the meantime all the worst tendencies in world capitalism have conjoined to prevent progress on the two main areas of COP 17 decisions: financing and technology. The latter includes intellectual property rights barriers which must be overcome, reminiscent of how militant AIDS treatment activists liberated antiretroviral (ARV) medicines in 2003 at the Doha World Trade Organisation summit. Before that summit, Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights provisions allowed Big Pharma to charge $15 000 per person per year for life-saving ARVs, even though generic drugs cost a fraction of that sum. A similar push to decommodify vital climate technology is needed, but only a few activists have prioritised this struggle.
After all, technological processes that threaten the earth have intensified, such as geo-engineering, shale-gas fracking (endorsed by the SA National Planning Commission), tar sands extraction, and carbon capture and storage schemes aiming to bury greenhouse gases. The Johannesburg company SASOL continues to build up the world’s most CO2-intensive factory by converting coal and gas to liquid petroleum, for which it requests carbon credits from the UN.
And in spite of the Fukushima catastrophe, the US and South Africa continue a major nuclear energy expansion. The mad idea of seeding the oceans with iron filings to generate carbon-sequestrating algae blooms continues to get attention. In October 2010, the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan called for a halt to geo-engineering, but a year later British scientists began experimenting with stratospheric aerosol injections as a way to artificially cool the planet. As Canadian technology watchdog Diana Bronson put it, ‘This so-called Solar Radiation Management could have devastating consequences: altering precipitation patterns, threatening food supplies and public health, destroying ozone and diminishing the effectiveness of solar power.’
The financial mechanisms under debate since Cancun are just as dangerous because austerity-minded states in the US and European Union are backtracking on their $100 billion/year promise of a Green Climate Fund to promote carbon trading. That Fund appears set to re-subsidise carbon markets by ensuring they become the source of revenues, instead of larger flows of direct aid from rich countries, which activists suggest should become a down payment on the North’s ‘climate debt’. The markets have been foiled by their own internal corruption and contradictions, as well as by left critiques in key sites such as California and Australia, and rightwing climate change denialism in the US Congress.
But most importantly, the EU’s emissions trading scheme is still failing to generate even $10/ton carbon prices, whereas at least $50 would be required to start substantial shifts from fossil fuels to renewables. And world financial chaos means no one can trust the markets to self-correct.
Even with a rise of 2° C, scientists generally agree, small islands will sink, Andean and Himalayan glaciers will melt, coastal areas such as much of Bangladesh and many port cities will drown and Africa will dry out or in some places flood. With the trajectory going into Durban, the result will be a cataclysmic 4–5° C rise in temperature over this century, and if Copenhagen and Cancun promises are broken, as is reasonable to anticipate, 7° C is likely.
After 16 annual Conferences of Parties, the power balance within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change continues to degenerate. On the other hand, growing awareness of elite paralysis is rising here in Durban, even within a generally uncritical mass media.
That means the space occupied by activists will be crucial for highlighting anti-extraction campaigns including the Canadian tar sands, West Virginia mountains, Ecuadoran Amazon and Niger Delta – the hottest spots at present.
Expanding the Enviro Fightback
Patrick Bond directs the University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society in Durban. His two most recent books are Politics of Climate Justice and Durban’s Climate Gamble
|Links to other resources||Many COP17 related videos available on YouTube, inculding: