||Launch of Fossil Free KZN, 13 February
From 5-7pm, a special new civil society network - Fossil Free KZN - will be launched, provisionally hosted by the University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society and coordinated by well-known Durban activist Faith ka-Manzi.
The work is being done in honour of Dennis Brutus (1924-2009), the great poet whose last years spent at CCS (2004-09) and last weeks with us prior to the Copenhagen COP15 were dedicated to extending his heroic anti-apartheid boycott, divestment and sanctions activism to climate advocacy.
The province has many fossil fuel and emissions hotspots, including these dirty-dozen culprits:
Two of Africa's biggest electricity-guzzling smelters (BHP Billiton aluminium and Assore manganese).
Extensive coal fields (from Richards Bay to Newcastle and beyond), many of which are financed by SA banks (like Nedbank) with branches across KZN.
The world's largest single coal export terminal (at Richards Bay).
Africa's largest petrochemical refining site (in South Durban).
Dodgy offshore-KZN oil prospecting by ExxonMobil and the Burmese company Silver Wave.
The world's longest multi-product petroleum pipeline (a version of which exploded near Hillcrest on 23 December 2014)
Trucks transporting 2.5 million containers/year from the Durban port and causing 7000 road accidents in the process (with the NDP proposing an increase to 20 million containers/year by 2040).
Worsening suburban sprawl in the major cities - such as the northward drift of exclusive housing estates and shopping malls, causing unnecessary urban emissions and greater reliance on individual auto transport.
Fracking will threaten the Drakensburg Mountains, if Shell succeeds in the Karoo in coming years.
Carbon trading gimmicks tap a small fraction of KZN landfills' massive methane emissions.
Major automobile factories, a R250 billion port-petrochem expansion and several airports, contrasting with mostly idle rail lines.
Personal overconsumption of fossil fuels, in all our travel, energy and retail purchasing habits (including meat-centric, fossil-addicted, fertiliser-saturated and pesticide-reliant corporate agriculture), in which we mimic the materialistic, alienated West.
Although Durban is considered one of the Rockefeller Foundation's '100 Resilient Cities', in reality, the municipality's economic strategies will amplify nearly all these problems. So do KZN provincial economic plans, with their reliance on mega-project white elephants.
And the damage from climate change is becoming evident. Already we have suffered massive storms that kill people living in poorly-constructed houses, and our citizens and many animals are suffering a devastating drought stretching from Durban through northern KZN. We must immediately address both climate-change crises, as well as their causes. Load-shedding due to Eskom's incompetence is not a viable solution to our fossil fuel addiction!
It is long overdue for civil society to unite against our addiction to fossil fuels as well as our extraction and refining of these planet-threatening substances: oil, bunker fuel for shipping, coal for export and electricity generation, and methane from landfills and fracking.
Speaking on Friday afternoon will be several leading experts on climate change:
Winnie Mdletshe - Ocilwane village organiser in the Fuleni struggle against Ibutho Coal
Desmond D'Sa - leader of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (and 2014 Goldman Award winner)
Bhavna Deonarain - 350.org (main organisation promoting fossil fuel divestment)
Sifiso Dladla - Global Environmental Trust (protecting Hluhluwe-Imfolozi park from coal mining)
Delwyn Pillay - Greenpeace KZN
David Le Page - Fossil Free South Africa
Faith ka-Manzi - Centre for Civil Society/Dennis Brutus Fossil Free KZN campaign
(this project is affiliating to the national Fossil Free South Africa campaign)
CCS launches Fossil Free KZN and hosts seminar on COP21
The Centre for Civil Society (CCS) at the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) recently hosted two events around challenges and reactions to climate change crises and causes.
The events were held in an effort to highlight the need to save the planet and to continue building a KZN-wide civil society movement for climate justice.
The first event was a seminar presented by an independent communications engineer, Mr Angus Joseph, which looked at climate justice and solidarity from Lima to Paris.
‘While acknowledging the role and function of localised grassroots actions to counter the destructive forces of capitalism and the side effects of climate change, we cannot overlook or over-simplify the larger global political and social narratives,’ said Joseph. ‘As the world progresses from COP20 in Lima, and we start preparations for COP21 in Paris later this year, we need to look back at the COP20 process and ahead to the year of actions and articulations building to Paris21.’
Joseph argued that planning for Paris should be based upon how the global platform afforded by COP21 can be used to influence the climate activist movement to begin to adequately reflect the gravity of the ecological crises being faced and to transform the capitalist system causing them.
‘This will undoubtedly require the intersectional convergence with movements focused on the many other manifestations of capitalism such as patriarchy, racism, colonialism, austerity, debt, housing insecurity and homophobia.’
His presentation also focussed on experiences in setting up the activist convergence house CasActiva (House of Activists) as the alternative space for COP20 as well as experiences at various community houses around Peru and Bolivia. He encouraged a step-up in local climate activists' preparations for Paris.
A new civil society network Fossil Free KZN was also launched and was provisionally hosted by the CCS and coordinated by well-known Durban activist and CCS Scholar, Ms Faith ka-Manzi.
Said Manzi: ‘The work was done in honour of Dennis Brutus (1924-2009), the poet whose last years spent at CCS (2004-09) and last weeks with us prior to the Copenhagen COP15 were dedicated to extending his heroic anti-apartheid boycott, divestment and sanctions activism to climate advocacy.’
Speaking at the launch, Manzi pointed out that the damage from climate change was becoming evident. ‘Already we have suffered massive storms which kill people living in poorly-constructed houses, and our citizens and many animals are suffering a devastating drought stretching from Durban through northern KZN. We must immediately address both climate change crises as well as their causes. Load-shedding due to Eskom's incompetence is not a viable solution to our fossil fuel addiction.
‘It is long overdue for civil society to unite against our addiction to fossil fuels as well as our extraction and refining of these planet-threatening substances: oil, bunker fuel for shipping, coal for export and electricity generation, and methane from landfills and fracking.’
Also presenting at the launch were several leading experts on climate change - Mr David Le Page of Fossil Free South Africa; Mr Desmond D'Sa leader of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, and Mr Delwyn Pillay of Greenpeace.
Those gathered at the launch committed themselves to start discussions with UKZN to become a solar energy powered university since the institution was situated in an area with an abundance of sunlight.
Fossil Free KZN will also look at how to table the demand for climate debt to Northerners as the minimal ‘polluters pay’ principle, given that the South African government’s Durban COP17 regrettably diminished the Kyoto Protocol’s principle of ‘Common but Differentiated Responsibility’.
‘There is a need for the world’s wealthiest and most carbon-intensive institutions and individuals to compensate for the damage they have done to the people of Africa. But to that end, concrete funding mechanisms for climate debt payment that address the core problem – such as funding peasant and conservation activists battling against KZN coal mining on the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park border– are also required,’ said Manzi.