18 November 2009

Zuma, go to Copenhagen

It takes only 20 countries to emit nearly 90% of the world's greenhouse gases. And South Africa is the only African nation amongst these 20.

South African President Jacob Zuma knows very well that the impacts of climate change will be devastating for Africa, as he reminded the world during his latest address to the UN General Assembly.

But Greenpeace has criticised our climate strategy for failing to focus on energy efficiency and failing to invest in renewable energy. Our strategy is currently based on expensive, unproven and unsustainable technologies such as nuclear and CO² dumping. This could change when the Climate Bill comes before South African Parliament in 2011 – if politicians are made to understand the importance of the issue and the science behind it.

Greenpeace has said that we can cut our emissions by more than 200 million tonnes by 2050 without sacrificing economic growth. This is enormous and what the climate treaty summit in Copenhagen would like to hear. In order to do this, we need to use energy more efficiently and increase our wind and solar power production, claim our green crusaders.

In the past few months South Africa has had widespread and violent service delivery protests – which is a nice way of saying that people, who have been deprived of basic services since the days of Apartheid, have reached their tolerance limits. Greenpeace argues that rather than following the “polluting path blazed by the West”, we can provide what people need “in a smart way - it's about smart development and smart energy.”

South Africa, and other developing countries, want rich countries to pay to help the poor get clean technologies. With Obama and Hu having recently declared their determination to tackle climate change together, Zuma needs to be there in Copenhagen to try and make sure a good deal is made. Sixteen other South African lawmakers were there last month, making up the largest delegation at the climate-change forum for legislators. At the last forum we had only one representative.

More than getting money from countries that got rich messing up the planet, Zuma needs to lead the way and commit South Africa to play its role in stabilising the world’s climate.















Photo: greenpeace

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