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BRICS cook the climate




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BRICS cook the climate
Patrick Bond

As they meet in Durban on March 26-27, leaders of the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – must own up: they have been emitting prolific levels of greenhouse gases, far higher than the US or the EU in absolute terms and as a ratio of GDP (though less per person). How they address this crisis could make the difference between life and death for hundreds of millions of people this century.

South Africa’s example is not encouraging. First, the Pretoria national government and its Eskom parastatal electricity generator have recently increased South Africa’s already extremely high emissions levels, on behalf of the country’s ‘Minerals-Energy Complex’. This problem is well known in part because of the failed civil society campaigns against the world’s third and fourth largest coal-fired power plants (Eskom’s Medupi and Kusile), whose financing in 2010 included the largest-ever World Bank project loan and whose subcontractor includes the ruling party’s investment arm in a blatant multi-billion rand conflict of interest.

Other climate campaigns have made little dent against the guzzling mining and smelting industries which chew up South Africa’s coal-fired electricity and export the profits. The same is true for the high-polluting industries of the other BRICS countries, even in China where environmental protests are rising and where it is unsafe to breathe Beijing air on the majority of days so far this year.
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