Thursday, December 18, 2008

Conference: Religious Leaders for a Sustainable Future

A special conference of “Religious Leaders for a Sustainable Future”, is to be held from 10th to 12th February, 2009 at Eskom Centre.

This is a critically important conference being jointly organised by SAFCEI and Indalo Yethu. At this conference we want to agree on resolutions that we will address both to government and to faith communities about the challenges lying ahead regarding justice and peace in the world.

The Archbishop of Sweden, Anders Wejryd, has issued a multi-faith manifesto regarding Climate Change. It calls for extensive and speedy reduction of carbon dioxide emission in the wealthy parts of the world and formed the basis of a WCC statement presented at the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan calling for “effective and equitable global climate policy regime built on the ethical imperatives of justice, equity and solidarity.”

It would seem that political leaders still have a long way to go to implement the steps needed to counteract the effects of Climate Change. We need to take decisive action within the next 10 years.

At our forthcoming Summit we wish to consider which steps our government should take to meet the environmental crisis and what steps the faith communities should take.

From a letter from
Bishop Geoff Davies
Executive Director: SAFCEI
Office Tel: (+27) (0)21 7018145 Fax: 086 6969666
PO Box 106, Kalk Bay, 7990

Please pass this on to religious leaders in Southern Africa who may be interested in attending, or draw their attention to this post.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Greens' six steps to economic recovery

Greens offer six big steps for economic recovery

Green Party of the United States

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Contacts: Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-518-5624, cell 202-904-7614, Starlene Rankin, Media Coordinator, 916-995-3805,

Greens support workers occupying a factory in Chicago after layoff: bailout
money isn't being used to help working Americans

WASHINGTON, DC -- Green Party leaders said today that the incoming Obama
Administration and Congress should take six major steps to reverse the
financial meltdown and restore financial security for Americans.

The steps include a Green public works program, aid for state and muncipal
governments, expansion of mass transit, Single-Payer health care, a peace
dividend gained by ending the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and an
end to the wasteful war on drugs.

Green Party candidates running for local, state, and national office in 2008
promoted many of these ideas even before the crisis precipitated. In
September, Cynthia McKinney published a ten-point list of solutions and
reforms in response to the Wall Street meltdown, titled "Seize the Time"

Greens expressed support for United Electrical Workers union members
occupying a Republic Windows and Doors plant in Chicago after the plant was
shut down and they were laid off with three days' notice and told they had
no assurance of receiving severance and unused vacation pay. The company's
creditor, Bank of America, received $25 billion from the government's
financial bailout package. Greens said that the bank's actions, including
refusal to allow Republic to give workers 60 days notice (as required by
law), demonstrates how bailout money isn't being used to assist working
Americans facing financial hardship.

Six Green steps for economic recovery:

(1) Enact a massive Green public works program, creating new living-wage
jobs in conservation (including weatherization and energy retro-fitting);
clean and safe energy technologies to replace fossil fuel and nuclear
sources and create a carbon-free economy; repair and improvement of
America's deteriorating infrastructure (especially water and sewer systems);
and improvement of public schools and Green job training programs.

"The collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis in 2007 was a result of the
neglect and starvation of funds for maintaining infrastructure that was
built decades ago. The ideology of privatization and hostility to 'big
government' is no longer tenable during the financial crisis -- the current
White House and Congress conceded as much when they began pushing for
bailouts. Public works programs built America, and public works, with
hundreds of thousands of new Green jobs, is what America needs now for
economic recovery," said Rosa Clemente, the Green Party's 2008 candidate for
Vice President (

"We're encouraged that President-elect Obama intends to launch a public
works program along these basic lines, but we hope Congress and his own
administration don't undermine and dilute such a program out of traditional
Democratic and Republican loyalty to corporate interests and fear of being
labeled liberal or socialist. It's time to follow the lead of the Green Jobs
For All movement," Ms. Clemente added.

(2) Bail out financially ailing towns, cities, and states before bailing out
private corporations: millions of public sector and contractor jobs depend
on the fiscal security of municipal and state governments.

Greens noted that municipalities and states are businesses that drive state
and local economies throughout the US. They also provide the social safety
net that millions of working people need during the current crisis.

(3) Jumpstart our country's mass transit system, giving people an
alternative to cars while saving them money and providing jobs.

"Making autos more efficient will only get us part way toward solving our
energy and climate challenges. We need to get people out of their cars
altogether. Communities need the ability to provide local solutions for mass
transprotation: new trains, subways, light rail wherever they fit," said Wes
Rolley, co-chair of the Green Party's EcoAction Committee.

(4) Enact a Single-Payer/Medicare For All national health plan, providing
every American with coverage and removing the burden of health care from
small and large private businesses.

"The skyrocketing cost of health care under our private health care system
has created much of the economic instability as businesses struggle to
provide workers health benefits. If President Obama and Congress have the
political will to resist the power of the insurance, HMO, and pharmaceutical
industries that siphon their profits off America's need for health care, the
relief that Single-Payer will be a huge economic boost," said Sanda
Everette, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.

Single-Payer would cover all Americans regardless of income, employment,
residence, age, or prior medical condition, allowing choice of health care
provider, and costing working people far less than they now pay for private
coverage. In 2003, the New England Journal of Medicine published an article
estimating that Single-Payer could cut health care costs by $350 billion
annually ( Greens sharply
criticized Barack Obama during the election season for rejecting
Single-Payer out of concern for health insurance companies.

(5) End the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The staggering expense of the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions and
occupations haven't only cost American, Iraqi, and Afghan lives. It also ate
up trillions of dollars away that could have been spent on human and
environmental needs. If we call home our troops right now, we can divert the
money needed for military occupations to Green public works and other
programs to jumpstart the economy -- a new peace dividend," said Starlene
Rankin, co-chair of the Lavender Green Caucus.

The Green Party opposed both wars from the beginning and has criticized Mr.
Obama's plans for delayed and partial troop withdrawal from Iraq and for
sending more troops to Afghanistan.

(6) End the war on drugs, which wastes billions annually, hasn't curbed drug
use, and ruins lives by incarcerating nonviolent offenders (mostly young,
African American, Latino, and poor white) at further government expense.

"The war on drugs is America's longest and costliest war. With Afghanistan
providing the world's world's biggest poppy crop, it's one of the main
reasons the US is fighting a war there," said Cliff Thornton, co-chair of
the Green Party and co-founder of Efficacy, Inc.
(, which promotes major reforms in drug

Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron has estimated that legalizing cannabis would
save federal, state, and local governments $44 billion a year in enforcement
costs ( Governments could
collect another $33 billion in revenues by taxing cannabis as heavily as
alcohol and tobacco.


Green Party of the United States
202-319-7191, 866-41GREEN Fax 202-319-7193

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Critical climate change meeting


Pressure is rising as critical global climate negotiations near an end this week. Germany, Poland and Italy had been the main blockers, but now Poland has begun to waver! This leaves just Germany and Italy left standing in the way of the strong European leadership that's essential to secure us all a global deal.

Germany is the key – Chancellor Merkel is normally a climate champion, but has caved to industry, fearing for German jobs. She needs to hear from us that a Green Recovery is the answer to both our climate and our economic crises.

Merkel cares a great deal about her international reputation, which is why Avaaz has delivered our 150,000-strong petition and protested at her international meetings with the Poles. But now for the punch: an Avaaz commissioned opinion poll which reveals that 85% of Merkel’s own people are calling for her to show leadership in securing a strong climate deal. Together, we can help push Merkel over the edge -- follow this link to leave her a quick message encouraging her to do the smart thing for the environment and the economy:

The growing Avaaz petition, our joint demonstrations, the Fossil of the Day Awards (delivered to the climate offenders of the day) and our advocacy meetings with leaders are starting to shift climate positions at the global climate talks in Poznan. New heroes are emerging, such as the group of small island states whose revolutionary climate solutions we have supported before. The umbrella group for developing countries, the "G77", and China are also now standing firm to the Europeans.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dying crocodiles

The deaths of hundreds of crocodiles in the Kruger National Park’s Olifants River this year seems to indicate South Africa’s heavily polluted river systems have reached a ‘tipping point,’ explains Danie Pienaar, the head of scientific services at SANParks.

This tantalising snippet appeared on The Times home page, but will probably disappear as the page is updated.

There was a link to an audio clip, which was useless to me, as my computer doesn't have speakers, and there didn't appear to be any link to a print version of the story. Nevertheless, the story adds to the concern about South Africa's water resources, and puts the sacking of Dr Andrew Turton from the CSIR in an even more serious light.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

in her own write

It seems as though people in Australia have had a similar idea to SAFCEI:

in her own write:
Four months ago a meeting was held in Melbourne with the purpose of establishing a multi-faith environmental organisation. I have never actually joined an environmental organisation before - but when I heard about this I was moved to action. You see, while I don't deny the science of climate change and I don't wish to ignore technology in finding solutions to problems, I am tired of the never-ending rationalism involved in the science, technology, economics and politics relating to climate change and environmental matters. My view is that human communities and the Creator of the planet need to be more clearly acknowledged in the debate.

From that very first meeting in July, GreenFaith Australia has been established and I have finished up its Secretary.

CSIR Silences and Suspends Top Water Scientist

Dr Anthony Turton, who delivered a very disturbing presentation at the SAFCEI National Conference in Rosettenville in April this year, has just been suspended by the CSIR. Dr Turton spoke on the “water crisis” in SA and the mining operations in Gauteng in exacerbating the crisis.

We have been informed that Dr Turton has been suspended by the CSIR (see CSIR statement) prior to delivering an address entitled, “Three Strategic Water Quality Challenges that Decision-Makers Need to Know About and How the CSIR Should Respond”, which was intended to be delivered as the Keynote Address at “A Clean South Africa” CSIR “Science Real and Relevant” Conference on the 18 November 2008.

CSIR Silences and Suspends TOP Water Scientist - Environment South Africa - NEWS - FORUMS - ARTICLES - LEGISLATION:

This action comes just days after he was due to deliver his Keynote Address at a high profile conference but was not present at the conference and was more than likely prevented (or threatened) from attending the conference.

So much for our taxes at work !!! The CSIR is funded by public funds and Dr Turton's work was to reveal serious problems with Water in South Africa which clearly the current ANC regime do not want made public.

It is time for the public to stand up and ACT against this gross violation of Democratic and Constitutional Rights. Clearly the powers that be do NOT want you to know that you and your family are being slowly poisoned by greedy corporations and government officials.

Please go here to sign the petition against his suspension.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The bottled water scam

CounterPunch -November 18, 2008

The Bottled Water Con
Buying the Message on the Bottle

By Wendy Williams

I remember when the name of the game at my gym was pump 'n' swig. Weight
lifters and treadmill sloggers routinely carried with their sweat towels
expensive water in plastic bottles.

Drinking commercial water was the cool thing. In 2006, Americans bought 32.6
billion single-serving bottles of water, and another 34.6 billion larger

With a slew of brands for basically the same product, image marketers have
pushed the envelope - the bottle itself. My favorite absurdity: "Bling H2O,"
with the motto "More than a Pretty Taste." You can buy this water in a
"Limited Edition" frosted-glass bottle encrusted with crystals for $40.

The surprising truth is that an estimated 25 to 40 percent of bottled water
comes from public drinking reservoirs. Pepsico's Aquafina label shows
high-peaked mountains, but the water is from municipal systems, including
that of Ayer, Mass., a town next to a military base and a short drive from
Boston. Coca-Cola's brand, Dasani, also uses municipal systems.

I remember a Dennis the Menace cartoon showing Dad, dazed and bleary-eyed at
3 a.m., holding out a glass of water. Dennis says, "That's bathroom water! I
wanted kitchen water!"

It's all in the marketing.

At some restaurants, "water sommeliers" have pushed $75-a-bottle water for
each course. I once took my husband for his birthday to a restaurant where
the waiter asked if we would like our water bottled or - with curled lip -
"native." That convinced us. We absolutely had to go local.

We still laugh about that.

For years, the joke's been on consumers. We spend all that money on water
and plastic, and toss the plastic. It litters America from sea to
bottle-bobbing sea.

"We estimate that fewer than 20 percent of those get recycled," says Betty
McLaughlin, executive director of the Container Recycling Institute.

Elizabeth Royte, author of the highly readable "Bottlemania: How Water Went
on Sale and Why We Bought It," says America uses about 17 million barrels of
oil each year to make plastic water bottles.

"If you have good tap water, if bottled water is redundant, why wouldn't you
go for the low-impact option?" she asks. "Bring your water over to the
Stairmaster in a reusable bottle."

That message finally seems to be getting through. Today I see the beginnings
of a bottled-water backlash. At my gym, almost no one wants to be seen
swigging from throw-away plastic anymore.

Some restaurants have abandoned bottled water. New York City's Italian
restaurant Del Posto, where it's easy to drop hundreds of dollars on dinner
for two, has a 61-page wine list with many bottles priced over $1,000, but
you can't buy bottled water at any price. Says one of the restaurant's
owners: "To spend fossil fuel trucking water around the world is absurd."

At colleges nationwide, students take the "no bottled water" pledge.
Realizing that spending taxpayer funds on bottled water is careless
environmental stewardship, Illinois has canceled contracts for bottled
water. The city governments of Fayetteville, Ark., and Albuquerque, N.M.,
won't buy the stuff. Chicago has a tax of 5 cents per bottle to cover
disposal costs. Michigan may extend its 10-cent deposit on soft-drink
bottles to bottled water.

For a while, bottled water had a good thing going. In 2006, the industry
worldwide grew 7 percent in dollar sales. Some forecasters suggested 40
percent growth over the next five years.

But recently, those phenomenal growth rates have slowed worldwide.

"Bottled water sales have gone flat for the first time in 30 years, at both
Coke and Pepsi," says ad executive Erik Yaverbaum, founder of Tappening,
which encourages people to drink tap water. "I think people are realizing
they are wasting money buying water that's the same as what comes from their

If I'm going to the gym now, I drink a glass of water before I go. If I'm
going on a long car trip, I fill up a clean glass jug. My mom did that. And
we never went thirsty.


Wendy Williams, who lives in Massachusetts, is co-author of "Cape Wind:
Money, Celebrity, Class, Politics and the Battle for Our Energy Future." She
wrote this commentary for the Land Institute's Prairie Writers Circle,
Salina, Kan.


And in South Africa it is no different.

Some brands of bottled water are simply tap water, so you might as well refill them at the tap and recycle the bottles instead of adding them to the landfill.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Southern Ocean close to acid tipping point

Australian researchers have discovered that the tipping point for ocean acidification caused by human-induced CO2 emissions is much closer than first thought.

Scientists from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and CSIRO looked at seasonal changes in pH and the concentration of an important chemical compound, carbonate, in the Southern Ocean.

The results, published in today's Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, show that these seasonal changes will actually amplify the effects of human carbon dioxide emissions on ocean acidity, speeding up the process of ocean acidification by 30 years.

Dr Ben McNeil, senior research fellow at the UNSW's Climate Change Research Centre, says the ocean is an enormous sink for CO2, but unfortunately this comes at a cost.

"The ocean is a fantastic sponge for CO2, but as it dissolves in the ocean it reduces the pH of the ocean, so the ocean becomes more acidic," says Dr McNeil.

This acidification makes life especially hard for marine creatures such as pteropods - an important type of plankton found in the Southern Ocean - whose shells are made up largely of calcium carbonate.

Once the acidity of the Southern Ocean reaches a certain level, the shells of these and other calcareous marine creatures will start to dissolve.

"That's a really bad point to get to," says McNeil. "After that point, we can't go back unless we suck the CO2 out of the atmosphere."

This so-called 'tipping point' of acidification had been predicted to occur when atmospheric CO2 levels hit 550 parts per million, around the year 2060.

However, the new research shows levels of the carbonate that these creatures need to build and maintain their shells drops naturally in winter, due to natural variations in factors such as ocean temperature, currents and mixing, and pH.

This means the tipping point is likely to be reached at far lower atmospheric CO2 levels - around 450 ppm, says McNeil, which also happens to be the target set by the IPCC for stabilisation of CO2 emissions.

"That's the benchmark that a lot of climate scientists have said we want to reach," he says, but this concentration is forecast to be reached around 2030.

Dr McNeil says ocean acidification could lead to large scale ecosystem changes, affecting not just plankton but other marine life including fish, whales and dolphins.

"They're at the base of the food chain ... so right now we don't really know the ramifications."

"EconomicDemocracy Coop"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Renewable Energy lobby group:

A group of parliamentarians have formed themselves into a Renewable Energy lobby group called e-REACT. The first major outcome of this group is a private members bill on Feed In Tariffs called REFIT. Nersa announced at a WWF conference on Renewable Energy last week that Feed In Tariff legislation will be ready for implementation by February 28th, 2009 (postponed from September 25th). Eskom is likely to be the only approved power purchase agency. Only wind, solar, landfill gas and hydro will qualify for power purchase agreements. Biomass and Solar PV will not qualify.

Sponsored by Dr Ruth Rabinowitz (IFP) who is also the convenor, the private members bill supports speedy introduction of Feed In Tariff legislation and aims to be a wake-up call to Ministers that we are nowhere near realisation of the 2003 White Paper on Renewable energy which set a target for 10 000 GwH by 2013. The e-REACT private members bill will be discussed in parliament on 18 November at 12h30.

If you cannot attend the discussion, please consider emailing a note of support to either Ruth Rabinowitz (IFP), Gareth Morgan (DA), Lance Greyling (ID) or Judy Chalmers (ANC), stating your name, telephone number, fax (if you have one) and email address and a note saying why you support REFIT.

You can email it to one of these addresses:

Dr Ruth Rabinowitz (IFP)

Gareth Morgan (DA)

Lance Greyling (ID)

Judy Chalmers (ANC)

For further information contact Dr Ruth Rabinowitz MP on 011 802 1826 or 082 579 3698

Nations under threat of climate change

November 10, 2008 4:17 PM
Five nations under threat from climate change
"The first line of coconut trees has disappeared" - Kiribati inhabitant

While the world dithers about tackling climate change, in some parts
of the world people are running out of time. In Florida sea level
rises can be worked around to some extent - condos can be put on
stilts and moved away from the shoreline. But on some islands you can
only move back so far before you have to start worrying about the
water at your back door as well as the water in front.

Here are five islands whose inhabitants are going to need a new home soon:

1. The Guardian reports today that the new president of the Maldives
will be putting part of the country's profits from tourism into a very
special - and unusual - fund: one that will be used to buy a new,
climate-change-friendly home. With its highest point reaching only 2.4
metres, the Maldives is one of the lowest-lying nations in the world
and risks being submerged by rising sea-levels.

2. Tuvalu is another small pacific island state, and after the
Maldives the second-lowest nation in the world. At its highest, it is
5 metres above sea-level and could be gone by the middle of this
century. In 2002, the government was said to have hired two
international law firms to look into suing polluting nations for
effectively evicting its citizens.
3. Kiribati is a group of 32 atols and one island that peaks at 6.5
metres above sea-level. The World Bank has been involved in assessing
the nation's vulnerability to climate change. I attended a talk by one
of the project leaders some years ago in Paris. She quoted a few of
the changes which the islanders were noticing. The one that has always
stuck with me was "the first line of coconut trees has disappeared".
Salt-intrusion was killing off the trees that were closest to the

4. The inhabitants of the Carteret Islands of Papua New Guinea may be
among the first climate refugees - their home lies just 1.2 metres
above the waves. The government of Papua New Guinea adopted a plan in
2005 to evacuate the locals to the neighbouring island of
Bougainville. The relocation was initially scheduled for 2007, then
delayed. According to this report, there was a trial earlier this
year, which created some tension as relocated citizens were used as
labourers in coconut plantations on Bougainville.

5. In 1995, 500,000 inhabitants on Bangladesh's Bhola Island were
forced to move in when half their island was permanently flooded. Some
claim they were the first climate refugees. Scientists predict that 20
million Bangladeshis could suffer the same fate by 2030.

Catherine Brahic, environment reporter
New Scientist

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The tyranny of oil

From a book review:

Antonia Juhasz - The Bush Agenda:Index: "Juhasz investigates the true state of the U.S. oil industry—uncovering its virtually unparalleled global power, influence over our elected officials, its lack of regulatory oversight, the truth behind $150-a-barrel oil, $4.50-a-gallon gasoline, and the highest profit in corporate history. Exposing an industry that thrives on secrecy, Juhasz shows how Big Oil manages to hide its business dealings from policy makers, legislators, and most of all, consumers. She reveals exactly how Big Oil gets what it wants—through money, influence, and lies.

The Tyranny of Oil offers both a new take on problems and a new set of solutions as Juhasz puts forward an immediate call to action—a formula for reining in the industry, its governmental lobbying power, environmental destruction, and violence while reducing global dependence on oil. Her thought-provoking answers to the most pressing energy questions speak directly to readers concerned about oil and gas prices, global warming, wars for oil, and America’s place in the world. With the major players in the world’s most powerful industry charged with collusion, price-gouging, anti-competitive behavior, and unabashed greed, Juhasz calls boldly for the breakup of Big Oil."

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Celebrate frogs


Spring is sprung and the grass is riz and I wonder where the froggies is ……..

It’s that time of the year again – when we all listen out for the return of the frogs. Their chirping and croaking fills the night with reassuring sounds that our planet is still healthy enough to support these delicate indicator species. However, all is not well in our amphibian world. The world is facing what may be the single largest mass extinction event since the time of the dinosaurs: as many as half of the world’s 6,000 known amphibian species could be wiped out in our lifetimes.

At Sea World we are participating in a worldwide effort to help frog conservation. 2008 has been declared the Year of the Frog by the Amphibian Ark (a grouping of conservation groups working to help frogs survive into the future). The campaign hopes to raise awareness about the vulnerability of frogs and to rescue some of the most threatened species. The frogs will be protected in zoos and aquariums until, hopefully, the threats to the wild populations can be controlled and the animals can be released back into nature. Zoos around the world have been asked to become ‘arks’ to help save threatened species of amphibians. In South Africa the major threats to frogs are habitat loss and pollution.

Now is the time to celebrate frogs in your garden. Sea World is launching a “Fantastic Frogs Foto” competition ………….

Anyone can enter as long as your photo’s are taken within the boundaries of South Africa. Prizes will be awarded to the top three photo’s and all submissions will be displayed in the Aquarium at Sea World during the coming December/January festive season. Your photo can be submitted either by emailing or by post to Fantastic Frog Foto competition, PO Box 10712, Marine Parade, 4056. Closing date for the competition is 21st November 2008.

When submitting, please include your name, address and contact number as well as the date and place where you shot the photo.

So, when next you hear that loud croaking – smile – you are lucky enough to live in a special part of our planet – where the frogs have not been silenced forever!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Somali piracy and toxic waste

Toxic waste' behind Somali piracy

By Najad Abdullahi

Somali pirates have accused European firms of dumping toxic waste off the Somali coast and are demanding an $8m ransom for the return of a Ukranian ship they captured, saying the money will go towards cleaning up the waste.

The ransom demand is a means of "reacting to the toxic waste that has been continually dumped on the shores of our country for nearly 20 years", Januna Ali Jama, a spokesman for the pirates, based in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, said.

"The Somali coastline has been destroyed, and we believe this money is nothing compared to the devastation that we have seen on the seas."

The pirates are holding the MV Faina, a Ukrainian ship carrying tanks and military hardware, off Somalia's northern coast. According to the International Maritime Bureau, 61 attacks by pirates have been reported since the start of the year. While money is the primary objective of the hijackings, claims of the continued environmental destruction off Somalia's coast have been largely ignored by the regions's maritime authorities.

Dumping allegations

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy for Somalia confirmed to Al Jazeera the world body has "reliable information" that European and Asian companies are dumping toxic waste, including nuclear waste, off the Somali coastline. "I must stress however, that no government has endorsed this act, and that private companies and individuals acting alone are responsible," he said

The pirates are holding the MV Faina off Somalia's northern coast [Reuters] Allegations of the dumping of toxic waste, as well as illegal fishing, have circulated since the early 1990s. But evidence of such practices literally appeared on the beaches of northern Somalia when the tsunami of 2004 hit the country.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) reported the tsunami had washed up rusting containers of toxic waste on the shores of Puntland. Nick Nuttall, a UNEP spokesman, told Al Jazeera that when the barrels were smashed open by the force of the waves, the containers exposed a "frightening activity" that has been going on for more than decade. "Somalia has been used as a dumping ground for hazardous waste starting in the early 1990s, and continuing through the civil war there," he said.

"European companies found it to be very cheap to get rid of the waste, costing as little as $2.50 a tonne, where waste disposal costs in Europe are something like $1000 a tonne. "And the waste is many different kinds. There is uranium radioactive waste. There is lead, and heavy metals like cadmium and mercury. There is also industrial waste, and there are hospital wastes, chemical wastes ­ you name it."

Nuttall also said that since the containers came ashore, hundreds of residents have fallen ill, suffering from mouth and abdominal bleeding, skin infections and other ailments. "We [the UNEP] had planned to do a proper, in-depth scientific assessment on the magnitude of the problem. But because of the high levels of insecurity onshore and off the Somali coast, we are unable to carry out an accurate assessment of the extent of the problem," he said.

However, Ould-Abdallah claims the practice still continues. "What is most alarming here is that nuclear waste is being dumped. Radioactive uranium waste that is potentially killing Somalis and completely destroying the ocean," he said.

Toxic waste

Ould-Abdallah declined to name which companies are involved in waste dumping, citing legal reasons.

But he did say the practice helps fuel the 18-year-old civil war in Somalia as companies are paying Somali government ministers to dump their waste, or to secure licences and contracts.

"There is no government control ... and there are few people with high moral ground ... [and] yes, people in high positions are being paid off, but because of the fragility of the TFG [Transitional Federal Government], some of these companies now no longer ask the authorities ­ they simply dump their waste and leave."

Ould-Abdallah said there are ethical questions to be considered because the companies are negotiating contracts with a government that is largely divided along tribal lines.

"How can you negotiate these dealings with a country at war and with a government struggling to remain relevant?"

In 1992, a contract to secure the dumping of toxic waste was made by Swiss and Italian shipping firms Achair Partners and Progresso, with Nur Elmi Osman, a former official appointed to the government of Ali Mahdi Mohamed, one of many militia leaders involved in the ousting of Mohamed Siad Barre, Somalia's former president.

At the request of the Swiss and Italian governments, UNEP investigated the matter.

Both firms had denied entering into any agreement with militia leaders at the beginning of the Somali civil war.

Osman also denied signing any contract.

'Mafia involvement'

However, Mustafa Tolba, the former UNEP executive director, told Al Jazeera that he discovered the firms were set up as fictitious companies by larger industrial firms to dispose of hazardous waste.

"At the time, it felt like we were dealing with the Mafia, or some sort of organised crime group, possibly working with these industrial firms," he said.

Nations have found it difficult to tackle the problem of piracy [AFP] "It was very shady, and quite underground, and I would agree with Ould-Abdallah¹s claims that it is still going on... Unfortunately the war has not allowed environmental groups to investigate this fully."

The Italian mafia controls an estimated 30 per cent of Italy's waste disposal companies, including those that deal with toxic waste.

In 1998, Famiglia Cristiana, an Italian weekly magazine, claimed that although most of the waste-dumping took place after the start of the civil war in 1991, the activity actually began as early as 1989 under the Barre government.

Beyond the ethical question of trying to secure a hazardous waste agreement in an unstable country like Somalia, the alleged attempt by Swiss and Italian firms to dump waste in Somalia would violate international treaties to which both countries are signatories.

Legal ramifications

Switzerland and Italy signed and ratified the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, which came into force in 1992.

EU member states, as well as 168 other countries have also signed the agreement.

The convention prohibits waste trade between countries that have signed the convention, as well as countries that have not signed the accord unless a bilateral agreement had been negotiated.

It is also prohibits the shipping of hazardous waste to a war zone. Abdi Ismail Samatar, professor of Geography at the University of Minnesota, told Al Jazeera that because an international coalition of warships has been deployed to the Gulf of Aden, the alleged dumping of waste must have been observed.

Environmental damage

"If these acts are continuing, then surely they must have been seen by someone involved in maritime operations," he said. "Is the cargo aimed at a certain destination more important than monitoring illegal activities in the region? Piracy is not the only problem for Somalia, and I think it's irresponsible on the part of the authorities to overlook this issue."

Mohammed Gure, chairman of the Somalia Concern Group, said that the social and environmental consequences will be felt for decades.

"The Somali coastline used to sustain hundreds of thousands of people, as a source of food and livelihoods. Now much of it is almost destroyed, primarily at the hands of these so-called ministers that have sold their nation to fill their own pockets."

Ould-Abdallah said piracy will not prevent waste dumping. "The intentions of these pirates are not concerned with protecting their environment," he said. "What is ultimately needed is a functioning, effective government that will get its act together and take control of its affairs."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Orthodox primates speak on human divisions and the environment

The primates of the Orthodox Churches, meeting from 10-12 October at the Phanar, Istanbul, have issued a message to all Orthodox Christians throughout the world, urging them, among other things, to play a part in healing human divisions and caring for creation.

Russian Orthodox Church (Brussels Representation) - Eglise Orthodoxe Russe (Repr�sentation �Bruxelles):
The various nationalistic, ethnic, ideological and religious contrasts continuously nurture dangerous confusion, not only in regard to the unquestionable ontological unity of the human race, but also in regard to man’s relationship to sacred creation. The sacredness of the human person is constrained to partial claims for the “individual”, whereas his relationship toward the rest of sacred creation is subjected to his arbitrary use or abuse of it.

These divisions of the world introduce an unjust inequality in the participation of individuals, or even peoples in the goods of Creation; they deprive billions of people of basic goods and lead to the misery for the human person; they cause mass population migration, kindle nationalistic, religious and social discrimination and conflict, threatening traditional internal societal coherence. These consequences are still more abhorrent because they are inextricably linked with the destruction of the natural environment and the entire ecosystem.

The greenhouse effect that may be cooling the climate - earth - 10 October 2008 - New Scientist Environment

The greenhouse effect that may be cooling the climate - earth - 10 October 2008 - New Scientist Environment: "HERE is one greenhouse effect that is welcome: the roofs of hothouse farms in Spain reflect so much sunlight that they may be pushing down local temperatures.

Since the 1970s, semi-arid pasture land in Almeria, south-eastern Spain, has been replaced by greenhouse horticulture. Today, Almeria has the largest expanse of greenhouses in the world - around 26,000 hectares."

Hat-tip to Nouslife, who comments: "Of course, the effect of this agriculture on the water table is another story."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Spirituality and Conservation IUCN Forum 9th October 2008

Spirituality and Conservation IUCN Forum 9th October 2008

I want to say that I believe it essential that Faith Communities and environmental organizations partner and work together.

I know that in the past there has been a lack of contact, and even suspicion: Environmentalists believing that Faith Communities were only interested in heavenly matters and so were no earthly good, and some religions thinking that environmentalists were leading us down the path of pantheism and new age philosophies.

There are a number of reasons why it is so important that environmentalists partner with us:

  1. The environmental crisis is a moral and spiritual matter. We know values have to change if we are to achieve a sustainable world. Religious and spiritual traditions are fundamental drivers of human behaviour. Religions can change people’s behaviour and offer hope, inspiration and action.

  1. Religion is a pervasive force in society. Let’s work with religions. Some say that it is only going to be the religions that will turn us from our present disastrous direction.

  1. Religions have a huge network base grounded in local communities – I want you, the IUCN partners, to link in with that.
IUCN in turn need to encourage religions to recognise that the environment is part of their responsibility. This is happening. We are here at this Forum, and increasingly religions are putting the environment onto their agenda.

For example, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has said: “For the Church of the 21st Century, good ecology is not an optional extra but a matter of justice. It is central to what it means to be a Christian”. It is core gospel business.

Following the call from the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church and the World Council of Churches, we have set aside a period in the church’s calendar: a Season of Creation – a time to raise the profile of creation and to celebrate it.

We are rediscovering that there are two books of God – the Bible and nature.

Just as I believe it essential that conservation and religion work together, so must science and religion. I am married to a scientist, so I know how advantageous that is!

So you can help us to develop ecologically premised thinking, bringing environmental and scientific reality to Faith Communities.

Let me give some examples: In the Judeo-Christian world one of the most misused passages is Genesis 1:28: “Be fruitful…fill the earth…rule over every living creature”. Well, we have filled the earth and we have abused the command to ‘rule’ or ‘have dominion over’. The Biblical understanding is to care for, look after, protect. We need to put Genesis 2:15 alongside where we are told to till and “keep” the earth. We are to be “earthkeepers”.

South Africa under apartheid is an example of where we abused the mandate ‘to rule’ – we failed to rule with justice for all the people of the country.

Judaeo-Christian traditions recognise and worship a creator God. The creation story in Genesis is a profound theological story. It should not be seen as a scientific explanation.

I used to say that I did not mind if a person was a creationist or an evolutionist – my concern was that we are destroying life on this planet, whatever our beliefs.

I think it is imperative to recognise evolution so that we see that we are integrally part of creation – we are not ‘set apart’ from it.

The danger of creationism is that we think that somebody up there, out of nothing, brought Man into being, with a superior purpose and meaning in life, and that we are special and can consider ourselves superior and therefore treat the rest of creation with disdain and contempt.

All of us, people of faith or not, must overcome our anthropocentric assumptions that we humans are the centre of everything.

We have to recognise that we are part of life – we are part of all of creation and must treat it all with justice and respect. We must become eco-centric.

Faith Communities have a good record of seeking justice, leading the campaign for the abolition of slavery and standing against apartheid.

Religions also call for equity.

Because of our use of the stored fossil fuel capital of previous millennia, coal and oil, we have more wealth in the world than ever before –– yet we have greater poverty and economic injustice. We have a global apartheid situation with inequalities world wide that are far wider than they were in South Africa’s apartheid days.

We Christians say that God provides for our needs, but not our greed. It is an affront to God that a CEO can earn in a few days what someone else may earn in a lifetime, or even, dare I say, that we can stay in the wonderful luxury of these hotels, while there are children dying because they have no clean water. From here in Barcelona, that poverty may be on another continent. In Cape Town, it is alongside.

Most religions, I think, proclaim that we should live more simply so that others may live. Sacrificial love is at the heart of the Christian message. When confronted with the challenge of climate change and biodiversity loss I would hope that Christians would say ‘I am prepared to pull in my belt and forgo the luxury I now enjoy for the sake of my children and future generations.’ That means, for example, that if we have to pay more for renewable energy, we do so, rather than leaving an uninhabitable planet to future generations.

Religions call for peace, but we won’t find peace without justice and equity, and that now extends to all of creation.

We are calling for new economic principles that bring justice and equity to both the poor and the natural environment – as Achim Steiner suggested, ‘we must build environmental and social capital’.

We also hope we religions can help communicate the challenge. When people ask why biodiversity loss is so important, we can say in strong and emotive language that we are causing the extinction of God’s creation. And we need to be blunt, and say that is a sin! I can think of no greater sin than wiping out something that we believe God brought into being. .

We know the position is so serious that we hope we can promote unity against this common threat.

Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI)

I want to tell you what we are doing in South Africa: We have established a multi faith Environment Institute. We have members of all major religions represented on our management board, including African traditional religions. None of us feel threatened or our faith compromised – our own faith can be deepened in learning from others. Our purpose is to find common concerns and actions regarding the environment from our respective faith positions. We get on so well in SAFCEI we believe we are an example to the world!

We are committed to cherishing living earth, united in our diversity through our common commitment to earthkeeping.

Finally, we uphold as core values the principles of the Earth Charter.

  1. Respect and care for the community of life

    II. Ecological integrity

III. Social and economic justice

IV. Democracy, non-violence and peace

This is a global ethic that supports local practices and action.

The Earth Charter is a document all faiths could endorse and embrace and we ask that all faiths disseminate and promote it. It upholds principles for nature and for people and we believe could be a unifying document which could underpin a mass movement for the greatest cause, that of life itself, as Julia Marton LeFeuvre said at our grand opening. So let’s work together. There is lots to be done.

Bishop Geoffrey F Davies 8th October 2008


P O Box 106,

KALK BAY 7990,

South Arica


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Failure on climate change will 'haunt humanity': Australian expert

AFP: Failure on climate change will 'haunt humanity': Australian expert: "Failure to curb global warming would 'haunt humanity' forever, Australia's top climate adviser said Tuesday as he urged the country to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 60 percent by 2050.

Ross Garnaut, presenting his long-awaited report on climate change, said Australia was more vulnerable to rising temperatures than any other developed country because of its hot, dry climate and faced environmental destruction and a major decline in farming in nothing was done.

'If we fail, on a balance of probabilities, the failure of our generation will haunt humanity until the end of time,' Garnaut told reporters in Canberra."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Synchroblog on interreligious dialogue

While not strictly an "environmental" topic, this one may interest people of different faith communities. A group of us are planning to hold a synchronised blog (synchroblog) on the general topic of "Interreligious Dialogue" on 8 October 2008.

Any SAFCEI member who has a blog is welcome to take part. If you want to know more, see Notes from underground: Interfaith synchroblog and forum.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Creation Care weekend 3-5 October

A Rocha and NieuCommunities invite churches and community organizations to a weekend of hands-on workshops about caring for creation.

The workshop will be held at Pangani, the Nieu Communities home, at 106 Emily Hobhouse Road, Pretoria North.

Allen Goddard, Director of A Rocha South Africa, together with
NieuCommunities South Africa and other local Christian community leaders will explore the Bible's call to care for creation and how this translates into conservation action for local churches and communities.

Besides an introduction to A Rocha's community conservation work worldwide, this workshop draws on participants' knowledge and their commitment to Pretoria's local environments, to workshop old and new ideas for small, effective community conservations projects.

The programme:

Friday evening, 3 October - Creation Communities Showcase

A Rocha and NieuCommunities introduce their unique expressions of living out the whole Gospel, in an evening of hospitality and interaction. Participants' questions and expectations for the creation stewardship weekend will be noted. Begins with dinner at 1800.

Saturday, 4 October - A day workshop in the hospitable environment of NieuCommunities

The day will combine short Bible presentations by Allen Goddard on the theme of Following Jesus - Environmentally Speaking, and hands on workshops with guest facilitators on how creation stewardship is being implemented in local communities in Pretoria. The afternoon will look in particular at workshopping community conservation ideas. Participants' expectations will be reviewed briefly at the end of the day. 0900 - 1600.

Please RSVP your participation on either/both days with Arthur Stewart -

Please pass along this information to others who might be interested!

Monday, September 22, 2008

西儒 ─ The Western Confucian: Cob Houses

The Western Confucian has several interesting pictures of cob houses:

The Western Confucian: Cob Houses:
You've seen them in Korea, whether or not you knew what they were (and I did not); The New Beginning has links galore about them overseas — The Barclays Self Build Cob House, More on cob, and More on cob houses.

And you've seen them in South Africa, whether or not you knew what they were:

What is Cob?:
A cob house is made of clay, sand and straw. The mixture is 'kneaded' like dough before it is put into place by stomping on it with your feet or using a cement mixer for larger scale operations. The clay acts as the glue, while the sand gives strength to the mixture and the straw gives the walls tensile strength once hardened into place. Because cob is very flexible to work with, the builder is free to create just about any shape, so you won't find too many cob homes that look similar to each other.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

urban sprout | green news organic eco directory

urban sprout | green news organic eco directory: "The Department of Trade and Industry has handed down a ruling for mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods in South Africa.

From now on, you have a choice as to whether or not you want to buy GM, but better still, you will actually know which foods contain GM."

Friday, September 19, 2008

Could the diabetes epidemic be caused by pollution?

No Title: "Rachel's introduction: 'Ask why diabetes is epidemic in the 21st century and most people will point the finger at bad diet, laziness and obesity. According to a small but growing group of scientists, though, the real culprit is a family of toxic chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants, or POPs... including dioxins, DDT and PCBs....'"

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Times - Sacking of conservationists harms SA’s image abroad

The Times - Sacking of conservationists harms SA’s image abroad: "IT HAS come to our attention that three conservationists have been sacked in your country because they tried to save the habitat of an endangered species of flamingos. — Mark Duchamp, Iberica 2000, Spain

Deputy director Julius Koen, ornithologist Mark Anderson and scientist Eric Herrmann were suspended by the Northern Cape provincial government after it discovered their links to a campaign to save Kamfers Dam, one of only six lesser flamingo breeding sites in the world.

This bird is classified as near- threatened due to its declining population and the low number of breeding sites, some of which are threatened by human activities"

Friday, September 12, 2008

Calling all SAFCEI members

Calling all SAFCEI members

This blog has been running for nine months now.

Its purpose is to facilitate communication between SAFCEI members and other people interested in the environment (if you are not a member of SAFCEI, and don't know what SAFCEI is, you can go to the main SAFCEI web site to learn more).

I started it mainly to show how a blog can aid communication for a group like SAFCEI.

Up till now, I have run it by myself. I've taken communications from the SAFCEI office, and other environmental news items and posted them on the blog.

But for it to achieve its full potential, the blog needs to be supported by more members of SAFCEI. It should not be a one-man band, but a community effort.

For a start, you could contribute by making comments on some of the posts. Anyone can do that, whether they are members of SAFCEI or not.

But it would be better still if SAFCEI members by contributing to the blog posts. Ideally there should be at least one contributing blogger for each faith community represented in SAFCEI. So this is a call for volunteers -- I'm a Christian, but there are also other varities of Christians. How about a Hindu contributor, a Buddhist contributor, a Muslim contributor, a contributor from the Bah'ai faith? These could then contribute environmental news from each of these faith communities.

How do you become a contributor?

You should be a member of SAFCEI, and then have a Google Id. If you have a Goggle e-mail address, you automatically have a Google Id, which you can then use to log in to Blogger (which yopu need to do if you want to make comments on this blog. If you don't have Google e-mail, it is easy enough to apply for, and useful if you are travelling, because you can use it anywhere there is an internet connection.

If you would like to help by contributing to this blog, please leave a comment on this post, telling a little bit about yourself, your faith community and your environmental interests and activities, and how we can contact you.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Stop mining of the Xolobeni beaches in the Transkei Petition

Please go to this site and sign the Xolobeni mining petition:

Stop mining of the Xolobeni beaches in the Transkei Petition: "The Department of Minerals and Energy has announced that it intends awarding a mining licence to Australian mining company MRC on 31 October 2008 to mine the Kwanyana Block of the Amadiba Tribal Administrative Area, on the Pondoland Wild Coast. This announcement has been made before the SA Human Rights Commission has completed its investigation into human rights violations lodged by local residents allegedly perpetrated by agents of MRC."

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Ecosocialist Manifesto "Discussion begins on
Second Ecosocialist Manifesto

At the founding Ecosocialist International Network meeting in Paris last October Ian Angus, Joel Kovel and Michael Lowy were delegated to draft a Second Ecosocialist Manifesto.

They have now finished the draft and have submitted it for open international discussion. It can be downloaded in PDF form from the Ecosocialist International Network website:

* English: 2nd-Ecosocialist-Manifesto-DRAFT-en.pdf"

Monday, September 1, 2008

Spring, Ramadan, New Year

Today is the first day of Spring, at least in the popular calculation.

It is also the beginning of Ramadan for Muslims, and for Orthodox Christians the beginning of the New Year.

Orthodox Christians dedicate the first days of September for thinking and praying about the environment and the created world, and the need to care for it.

Perhaps the picture (of Mitchell Park, Durban) can remind us of some of the beauties of spring and the need to care for God's creation.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Stacked Tall � The First Fossil Fuel Free Community

Stacked Tall � The First Fossil Fuel Free Community: "Plans are in the works for a community called Geos to operate completely without fossil fuel. The plan is to build a community of affordable housing (not just for the rich elite) that run on solar power on sunny days and geo power on cloudy days."

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Say NO to genetically-modified potatoes

Potato South Africa oversees the whole potato industry. If they believe that their market will be jeopardised by GM potatoes, they will make a strong case to the GMO council not to allow them onto the market. Potato SA has already said that they will oppose the permit, your decision will help to galvanise their position.

GM Potatoes have already been rejected by consumers in the United States and the European Union. The governments of Egypt and Indonesia began experiments on these potatoes but ended them when they realised that consumers would not buy. Your signature could ensure they meet the same fate in South Africa.

>> Sign the Petition

Taking into account that South Africa’s Agriculture and Research Council (ARC) has announced their intention to apply to the SA government for permission to make GM potatoes commercially available,

We, the undersigned consumers and importers of potatoes, hereby vehemently oppose the marketing and growing of GMO potatoes and implore the SA GMO council to reject the application outright, on the following grounds :

Health Concerns

There is no consumer confidence in the long-term safety of GM potatoes and they pose no benefit to the consumer. Problems with Bt genes that have been commercialised in the past have included immune reactions, impacts on organ weight and function and allergic reactions.

Additionally, the use of antibiotic resistant marker genes poses an unacceptable risk to the health of Africans. There is a possibility that the use of these genes could diminish the efficacy of antibiotics such as Kanamycin, a drug that is listed in the WHO Essential Medicines Library as a drug reserved for treating multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.

There is no reason for consumers to take the risk of eating a novel food for the sake of storage requirements for farmers.

Force feeding fellow Africans with dangerous food

ARC’s GM potato work is funded by USAID, which is well known for their tactics to push US corporate interests in GM in Africa. They are up front about their goal to “integrate GM into local food systems” through their Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project (ABSP).

Ninety percent of South Africa export potato crop goes to its neighbours in SADC, where many have imposed bans or biosafety restrictions on GM food. ARC’s GM potatoes will force feed fellow Africans with food that they have neither asked for nor have a say in.

GM Potatoes won’t help African farmers

GM potatoes are located within the “Green Revolution” package for Africa that proffers technical and economic solutions for African agriculture. These solutions, designed by transnational agribusiness, create dependence on hi-tech, capital-intensive technology that is inappropriate for small-scale farmers. Public research money would be better used on enhancing more appropriate agricultural systems that ensure local food security, adaptability to changing climates and local control over resources.

African farmers face the loss of their markets and control over their farming systems if South Africa paves the way for the introduction of GM potatoes onto the continent.

Biosafety Concerns

The developers claim that GM potatoes are better for our health & the environment because they reduce pesticide spraying, but this is not true. GM potatoes are engineered with an inbuilt pesticide to control the tuber moth, which is most destructive during storage. The pesticide is now inside the plant and farmers will still use a toxic cocktail of chemicals to combat all the other 99 pests, as well as viral, fungal & bacterial diseases, and weeds that plague potato farming in South Africa.

Furthermore because the Bt toxin is expressed 24 hours a day, it accumulates in the environment and throughout the food chain. The tuber moth will quickly develop resistance to the toxin, so this is a short-term and short-sighted solution to this problem.

* To download a booklet with detailed information on the GM potato in the South African potato industry go to :

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Government's CO2 mitigation strategy


With reference specifically to our mitigation strategy, Cabinet adopted the following approach:

  1. The Start Now strategic option as outlined in the LTMS will be further implemented. This is based, amongst others, on accelerated energy efficiency and conservation across all sectors, including industry, commerce, transport and residential, inter alia through more stringent building standards.
  2. We will invest in the Reach for the Goal strategic option by setting ambitious research and development targets focussing on carbon-friendly technologies, identifying new resources and affecting behavioral change.
  3. Furthermore, regulatory mechanisms as set out in the Scale Up strategic option will be combined with economic instruments such as taxes and incentives under the Use the Market strategic option, with a view to:
    • Setting ambitious and mandatory (as distinct from voluntary) targets for energy efficiency and in other sub-national sectors. In the next few months each sector will be required to do work to enable it to decide on actions and targets in relation to this overall framework.
    • Based on the electricity-crisis response, government’s energy efficiency policies and strategies will be continuously reviewed and amended to reflect more ambitious national targets aligned with the LTMS.
    • Increasing the price on carbon through an escalating CO2 tax, or an alternative market mechanism.
    • Diversifying the energy mix away from coal whilst shifting to cleaner coal, by for example introducing more stringent thermal efficiency and emissions standards for coal fired power stations.
    • Setting similar targets for electricity generated from both renewable and nuclear energy sources by the end of the next two decades.
    • Laying the basis for a net zero-carbon electricity sector in the long term.
    • Incentivising renewable energy through feed-in tariffs.
    • Exploring and developing carbon capture and storage (CCS) for coal fired power stations and all coal-to-liquid (CTL) plants, and not approving new coal fired power stations without carbon capture readiness.
    • Introducing industrial policy that favours sectors using less energy per unit of economic output and building domestic industries in these emerging sectors.
    • Setting ambitious and where appropriate mandatory national targets for the reduction of transport emissions, including through stringent and escalating fuel efficiency standards, facilitating passenger modal shifts towards public transport and the aggressive promotion of hybrids and electric vehicles.


Cabinet has mandated a clear path for the future. Milestones will include a national summit in February next year, the conclusion of international negotiations at the end of 2009 and a final domestic policy to be adopted by the end of 2010 after international negotiations have been completed.

The process will culminate in the introduction of a legislative, regulatory and fiscal package to give effect to the strategic direction and policy from now up to 2012.

Click here for the PowerPoint presentation of the Media Statement.

Enquiries to:
Ronel Bester Mobile: 083-242-7763 E-mail:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Solar power from Saharan sun could provide Europe's electricity, says EU | Environment | The Guardian

Solar power from Saharan sun could provide Europe's electricity, says EU | Environment | The Guardian: "A tiny rectangle superimposed on the vast expanse of the Sahara captures the seductive appeal of the audacious plan to cut Europe's carbon emissions by harnessing the fierce power of the desert sun.

Dwarfed by any of the north African nations, it represents an area slightly smaller than Wales but scientists claimed yesterday it could one day generate enough solar energy to supply all of Europe with clean electricity."

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Blackouts Spread

With the rolling blackouts at the beginning of this year and the media coverage South Africans might be forgiven for thinking that Eskom was the only electricity provider in the world that has been having problems. But apparently the energy crisis is worldwide.

Falls Church News-Press - The Peak Oil Crisis: The Blackouts Spread:
Shortages, however, are not confined to small, poor states, but, in an increasing number of cases, are appearing in large, relatively well-off and active states on which the OECD world of North America, Europe and parts of Asia are very dependent. Several of the countries having energy problems are actually oil exporting states that, for one reason or another, are not able to turn their increasing oil wealth into smoothly functioning shortage-free economies. Unfortunately, several major countries appear to be on the path to an energy shortage-induced economic and perhaps political collapse within the foreseeable future which obviously will have serious consequences for us all.

Currently, the most serious situations appear to be in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Both are nations with populations in excess of 150 million people that are ensnared in devastating power shortages that have destroyed their export industries. Both are facing water and agricultural problems that threaten their food supplies. Liquid fuels are running short and reductions in exports threaten their ability to import oil and natural gas. It was recently revealed that the Saudis already are forgiving $6 billion of Pakistan's $12 billion annual oil import bill.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

African Church Leaders’ Statement on climate change and water

African Church Leaders’ Statement on climate change and water

We Church Leaders representing National Christian Councils and Churches from the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in Southern Africa [FOCCISA] and the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great lakes and Horn of Africa [FECCLAHA] under the auspices of AACC met from 3rd-5th June 2008 to consult on the subject of climate change and water at the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Ecumenical Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.

1. Affirm the reality and urgency of climate change and the adverse negative impact it has on entire humanity and particularly on poor and vulnerable communities in Africa. The current climate crisis is primarily spiritual and ethical with serious political, economic and justice implications. As human beings we have failed to appreciate the intrinsic worth of ourselves, other humans, other species and future generations. We have failed to acknowledge the fact that the earth sustains life because of the harmonious balance of the elements and all the creatures within it.

Our pursuit of “happiness and high quality of life” need not endanger other peoples, nations, communities, species and future generations that are also entitled to survival and happiness. The earth has enough resources to satisfy everyone’s need, but not enough resources for anyone’s greed.

2. Believe that ecological sustenance can be assured only through the principle of being mindful of the welfare of others while we mind our own. That our survival is inextricably woven with that of others. And that in the long term, we cannot survive while others perish. (Do not wish for others that which you do not wish for yourself, nor promise that which you do not fulfil. Matthew 7:12).

3. Believe in line with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, that the costs of climate change mitigation and adaptation must be borne based on historical and actual responsibility and the ability to pay. In other words, there is an obligation of the industrialised countries to pay their carbon debts but more urgently to stop the emission of greenhouse gases.

4. Recognize that climate change has primarily been accelerated by emissions of green house gases due to human activities. That these global emissions are not only historical but also actual current emissions by industrialised countries thus global warming. The negative consequences of which are felt largely in the global South. And that climate change affects the availability of domestic and agricultural water and food security.

5. Appreciate the role of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in responding to the global environmental crisis as it provides a common negotiation platform for all nations and offers access for participation of non-governmental actors.

6. Reason that the current environmental and development crisis cannot be overcome through voluntary action only. That legally binding commitments are critical for the different issues of mitigation, adaptation, finance, development of technology and afforestation. It is therefore our view that the next eighteen months preceding the UNFCCC climate conference in Copenhagen in December 2009 (COP 15) are crucial to improving and strengthening the existing mechanisms.

7. Recognize that the Kyoto Protocol as an important step towards ensuring that industrialised countries commit themselves to legally binding emission reductions to 1990 levels. However, its implementation and the political commitment of the industrialised nations is absent. Some countries, notably USA and New Zealand have not even ratified the protocol, while most of the other countries with mitigation commitments are lagging too far behind their reduction targets.

We therefore urge African governments to propose and support principles based on justice, equity and responsibility in the climate change debate. These will go along way to secure fair and just commitments for the post 2012 period.

Unless decisive action is taken immediately, climate chaos will lead to increased human suffering and social upheaval condemning millions of people to hunger, disease, misery and death. A third of the African population has already fallen prey to droughts, floods and resource-based conflicts resulting from global warming.

We urgently therefore:

A. call on Governments and industry in the industrialised countries, especially in the North, to:

  • Implement significant and immediate reduction measures of at least 80% on 1990 levels and at the same time secure the right of all people to reach a dignified level of human development.
  • Rapidly execute emission reductions that they accepted in the Kyoto Protocol and to adopt new, more effective and legally binding post 2012 emission reduction obligations.
  • Support adaptation strategies in the South through adequate financial and technological support as a way of owning up to their responsibility for the climate crisis.
  • Avail new mechanisms for channelling significant sums of financial, technological and other support, in addition to the commitment made (and mostly not fulfilled) by developed countries to provide 0.7% of their Gross Domestic Product for Official Development Assistance (ODA).
  • Promote and implement low carbon strategies for sustainable human development.
  • Compensate developing countries for the damage already done and the lost opportunities based on the polluter-pays-principle.

B. Observe that the contribution of African countries to the total global emissions is very low and call upon the African governments to:

  • Affirm political will to address climate change and to allocate adequate public resources to education for increased resilience and adaptation initiatives.
  • Recognize the role of the churches and other civil societies including other faith communities in order to adequately respond to and support local efforts to adapt to the adverse consequences of climate change – particularly at community levels.
  • Define appropriate policy frameworks to support the innovation, contextualisation and development of technologies for sustainable industrial development in their respective countries, giving priority to the promotion of indigenous inventions and innovations.

C. Appreciate the efforts of churches and faith-based organisations in advocating for the rights of the poor and vulnerable communities in the continent and challenge them to:

  • Recognise the reality of climate change and the urgency to create awareness, mobilise and promote their communities to engage in activities towards effective and sustainable adaptation to the crisis.
  • Stand in solidarity with communities that are currently suffering from the negative impacts of climate change and whose livelihoods have been compromised through, encouraging diversified eating habits, home grown long term agriculture & food security programs
  • Review curricula of theological institutions and develop in-service training for clergy and lay leaders to integrate the theme of climate change at all levels.
  • Engage faith communities in the North to demand binding commitments from their governments to pay their carbon debt,reduce emission of green house gases and support adaptation initiatives in the South.
  • Continue to influence the UNFCCC negotiation process through joint lobbying and advocacy activities using equity-based frameworks like the “Greenhouse Development Rights” and other human rights based approaches.
  • To collaborate with their partners in the North to establish eco-congregations that will also offer options for checking consumerism through behaviour change thus reduce carbon emissions.
  • Engage African governments to develop appropriate legislation and policy framework towards precaution, mitigation and adaptation against climate change

We, church leaders present in this consultation, hereby commit ourselves to work, engage and challenge our constituents, African governments, partners, governments of industrialised countries, the African Union and United nations and other stakeholders in ensuring that climate change and its adverse effects as already experienced or
projected is reversed.
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