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A 2015 climate justice strategy from CT to Tunis to Paris

In Cape Town, activists ignored climate

In Tunis, a search for unity

Will a “climate movement across the movements” produce Seattle-style shutdowns or a Paris cul de sac?

By Patrick Bond (version originally published by TeleSUR)

TUNIS – Looming ahead in eight months’ time is another Conference of Polluters, or COP (technically, the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). The last twenty did zilch to save us from climate catastrophe. Judging by early rough drafts of the Paris COP21 agreement recently leaked, another UN fiasco is inevitable.

The ‘Coalition Climat21’ strategy meeting for Paris was held in Tunis on March 23-24, just before the World Social Forum. I had a momentary sense this could be a breakthrough gathering, if indeed fusions were now ripe to move local versions of ‘Blockadia’ – i.e. hundreds of courageous physical resistances to CO2 and methane emissions sources – towards a genuine global political project. The diverse climate activists present seemed ready for progressive ideology, analysis, strategy, tactics and alliances. Between 150 and 400 people jammed a university auditorium over the course of the two days, mixing French, English and Arabic.

It was far more promising than the last time people gathered for a European COP, in 2009 at Copenhagen, when the naivety of ‘Seal the Deal’ rhetoric from mainstream climate organisations proved debilitating. That was a narrative akin to drawing lemmings towards – and over – a cliff: first up the hill of raised expectations placed on UN negotiators, before crashing down into a despondency void lasting several years. Recall that leaders of the US, Brazil, South Africa, India and China did a backroom deal that sabotaged a binding emissions follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol. In ‘Hopenhagen,’ even phrases like ‘System change not climate change’ were co-opted, as green capital educated by NGO allies agreed that a definition of ‘system’ (e.g. from fossil fuels to nuclear) could be sufficiently malleable to meet their rhetorical needs.

That precedent notwithstanding, the phrase “A climate movement across the movements” used here seemed to justify an urgent unity of diverse climate activists, along with heightened attempts to draw in those who should be using climate in their own specific sectoral work. The two beautiful words ‘Climate Justice’ are on many lips but I suspect the cause of unity may either erase them from the final phraseology or water them down to nebulousness.

Unity – without clarity, responsibility and accountability?
Over the last nine months, since an August gathering in Paris, a great deal of coalition building has occurred in France and indeed across Europe. The proximate goal is to use awareness of the Paris COP21 to generate events around the world in national capitals on both November 28-29th – just before the summit begins – and on December 12, as it climaxes. There was consensus that later events should be more robust than the first, and that momentum should carry this movement into 2016. (The December 2016 COP22 will be in Morocco.)

The initial signs here were upbeat. Christophe Aguiton, one of Attac’s founders, opened the event: “In the room are Climate Justice Now! (CJN!), Climate Action Network (CAN), international unions, the faith community, and the newer actors in the global movement, especially and Avaaz. We have had a massive New York City march and some other inspiring recent experiences in the Basque country and with the Belgium Climate Express.”

But, he went on, there are some serious problems ahead that must be soberly faced:

  • There is no CJ movement in most countries;

  • Grounded local CJ organisations are lacking;

  • We need not just resistances but alternatives; and

  • There are some important ideological divisions.

  • Still, he explained, “We won’t talk content because in the same room, there are some who are moderate, some who are radical – so we will stress mobilisation, because we all agree, without mobilisation we won’t save the climate.” For more than 15 years, I’ve known Aguiton as one of the most persuasive, committed radicals in Europe. And in New York last September, I remember the ‘c’ word being used quite freely, partly prompted by the launch of Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything. So to me, the tone here suddenly sounded bland.

    This unity-seeking-minus-politics was reminiscent of a process four years in South Africa known as ‘C17’, a collection of 17 civil society organisations that did local preparatory work before the UN’s 2011 Durban climate summit, the ‘COP17.’ Actually, fewer than a half-dozen representatives really pitched in throughout, and the big moderate organisations expected to mobilise financial resources, media attention and bodies ultimately did none of these. South Africa’s Big Green groups and trade unions failed to take C17 ownership, to commit resources and to add the institutional muscle needed.

    I watched that process fairly closely, and with growing despondency. The first choice for a university counter-summit venue close by the Durban International Convention Centre was found to be unavailable at the last moment, so my Centre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal became an instant host for the ‘People’s Space.’ Thousands came but the messaging was vapid and virtually no impact was made on the COP or on South Africa’s own reactionary emissions policy. The final rally of 10,000 activists midway through the COP17 gave UN elites and local politicians a legitimating platform. Nor did we use the event to build a South African climate justice movement worthy of the name.

    So my own assessment of the ‘state failure, market failure and critic failure’ in Durban strongly emphasised the problem of excessive unity, without ideological clarity, institutional responsibility or political accountability.

    At COP21, radicals outside and only moderates left standing inside
    Maybe it will be different in France, because their movements are mobilising impressively, with projects like November 27-29 mass actions aimed at municipalities; a Brussels-Paris activist train; a ‘run for life’ with 1000 people running 4km each from northern Sweden to Paris; the ‘Alternatiba’ alternatives project with 200 participating villages from the Basque country up to Brussels which will culminate on September 26-27; and getting warmed up, on May 30-31, an anticipated 1000 local climate initiatives around the country.

    Yet the local context sounds as difficult in 2015 as it was in South Africa in 2011. As Malika Peyraut from Friends of the Earth-France pointed out, national climate policy is “inconsistent and unambitious” and the country’s politics are increasingly chaotic, what with the rise of the far right to 25% support in municipal elections. Worse, French society will be distracted by regional elections from December 6-12, and with national elections in 2017, “there is a high risk of co-optation,” she warned.

    No politicians should have their faces near these mobilisations, suggested Mariana Paoli of Christian Aid (reporting from a working group), as COP21 protesters needed to avoid the celebrity-chasing character of the big New York march. Al Gore’s name came up as one whose own corporate messaging was out of tune. But Avaaz’s Iain Keith asked, “Hypothetically, what if the president of Vanuatu came to the march – should we refuse him?” Vanuatu is probably the first nation that will sink beneath the waves, and the recent Cyclone Pam catastrophe made this a twister question. Without a real answer, Paoli replied: “What we are trying to avoid is politicians capturing the successes of movement mobilisation.”

    Behind that excellent principle lies a practical reality: there are no reliable state allies of climate justice at present and indeed there really are no high-profile progressives working within the COPs. It’s a huge problem for UN reformers because it leaves them without a policy jam-maker inside to accompany activist tree-shaking outside. The UN head of the COP process is an oft-compromised carbon trader, Christiana Figueres. Although once there were heroic delegates badgering the COP process, they are all gone now:

  • Lumumba Di-Aping led the G77 countries at the Copenhagen COP15 – where in a dramatic accusation aimed at the Global North, he named climate a coming holocaust requiring millions of coffins for Africa – and so was lauded outside and despised inside, but then was redeployed to constructing the new state of South Sudan;

  • President Mohamed Nasheed from the Maldives – also a high-profile critic at Copenhagen – was first a victim of US State Department’s cables (revealed by Wikileaks) which documented how his government agreed to a February 2010 $50 million bribe to support the Copenhagen Accord (just as Washington and the EU agreed that the “Alliance of Small Island States countries ‘could be our best allies’ given their need for financing”) and was then couped by rightwingers in 2012 and, earlier this month, was illegitimately jailed for a dozen years;

  • Bolivia’s UN Ambassador Pablo Solon was booted from his country’s delegation after the 2010 Cancun COP16, where, solo, he had bravely tried to block the awful deal there, and not even the Latin American governments most hated by Washington – Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua – supported him thanks to Northern bullying;

  • In any case a jungle road-building controversy (TIPNIS) soon divided Evo Morales’ supporters, and in 2013 the COP’s progressive leadership void grew wide after the death of Hugo Chavez and the battle by Rafael Correa against green-indigenous-feminist critics for his decision that year to drill for oil in the Yasuni Amazon (after having once proposed an innovative climate debt downpayment to avoid its extraction); and

  • Filippino Climate Commissioner Yeb Saño had a dramatic 2013 role in Warsaw condemning COP19 inaction after his hometown was demolished by Super Typhoon Haiyan, but he was evicted by a more conservative environment ministry (apparently under Washington’s thumb) just before the Lima COP in 2014.

  • If you are serious about climate justice, the message from these COP experiences is unmistakeable: going inside is suicide.

    Framing for failure
    It is for this reason that the original protest narrative suggestions that CAN’s Mark Raven proposed here were generally seen as too reformist. Acknowledging the obvious – “People losing faith in the broken system, corporations sabotaging change” and “We need a just transition” – his network then offered these as favoured headline memes: “Showdown in 2015 leads to a vision of just transition to fossil-free world” and “Paris is where the world decides to end fossil fuel age.”

    Yet with no real prospects of reform, the more militant activists were dissatisfied. Nnimmo Bassey from Oilwatch International was adamant, “We need not merely a just transition, but an immediate transition: keep the oil in the soil, the coal in the hole, the tar sands in the land and the fracking shale gas under the grass.” That, after all, is what grassroots activists are mobilising for.

    Added Nicola Bullard: “This narrative is too optimistic especially in terms of what will surely be seen as a failed COP21.” Bullard was a core Focus on the Global South activist in the 2007 Bali COP13 when Climate Justice Now! was formed based on five principles:

  • Reduced consumption;

  • Huge financial transfers from North to South based on historical responsibility and ecological debt for adaptation and mitigation costs paid for by redirecting military budgets, innovative taxes and debt cancellation;

  • Leaving fossil fuels in the ground and investing in appropriate energy-efficiency and safe, clean and community-led renewable energy;

  • Rights-based resource conservation that enforces indigenous land rights and promotes peoples’ sovereignty over energy, forests, land and water; and

  • Sustainable family farming, fishing and peoples’ food sovereignty.

  • Just as valid today, these principles were further fleshed out at the April 2010 World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia, to include emissions cut targets – 45% below 1990 levels in the advanced capitalist economies by 2020 – plus a climate tribunal and the decommissioning of destructive carbon markets which have proven incapable of fair, rational and non-corrupt trading. Dating to well before the CJN! split from CAN in Bali, that latter fantasy – letting bankers determine thefate of the planet by privatising the air – remains one of the main dividing lines between the two ideologies: climate justice or climate action.

    New York as a positive example
    A unity project is by no means impossible, and these are extremely talented organisers. The world was left with the impression of vibrant climate mobilisation in far more difficult conditions last September 21, after all. Cindi Weisner from Grassroots Global Justice Alliance reflected on the New York march, reminding of how broad-front building entailed surprising trust emerging between groups – leftists at the base, big unions, Big Green – whose leaders in prior years would not have even greeted each other.

    From Avaaz, Keith reminded us of the impressive New York numbers: 400,000 people on the streets including 50,000 students; 1574 organisations involved including 80 unions; another 300,000 people at 2650 events around the world; three tweets/second and 8.8 million FB impressions with 700,000 likes/shares. The next day’s Flood Wall Street action was surely the most dynamic moment, what with the financial core of fossil capitalism under the spotlight of several thousand protesters.

    But with corporate and UN summits following the big New York march and without escalation afterwards, the elites’ spin was dominant and ridiculously misleading. Barack Obama told the heads of state who gathered two days later: “Our citizens keep marching. We have to answer the call.” Needless to say the UN summit’s answer was null and void from the standpoint of respecting a minimal scientific insistence on emissions cuts.

    The necessity of a radical narrative
    Since the same will occur in Paris, concrete actions against the emitters themselves were suggested, including more projects like the Dutch ‘Climate Games’ which saw a coal line and port supply chain disrupted last year. There are coming protests over coal in Germany’s Rhineland and we will likely see direct actions at Paris events such as Solution 21, a corporate ‘false solutions’ event where geoengineering, Carbon Capture and Storage, and carbon trading will be promoted.

    Likewise, ActionAid’s Teresa Anderson reported back from a Narrative Working Group on lessons from Copenhagen: “Don’t tell a lie that Paris will fix the climate. People were arrested in Copenhagen for this lie. No unrealistic expectations – but we need to give people hope that there is a purpose to the mobilisation.”

    Most important, she reminded, “There is Global North historical responsibility, and those who are most vulnerable have done the least to cause the problem.” This is vital because in Durban, UN delegates began the process of ending the “common but differentiated responsibility” clause. As a result, finding ways to ensure climate “loss & damage” invoices are both issued and paid is more difficult. The UN’s Green Climate Fund is a decisive write-off in that respect, with nowhere near the $100 billion annually promised for 2020 and beyond by then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

    Most important, said Anderson, given the tendency of Third World nationalists to posture on this point, “Elites in both North and South are to blame, so it’s not a matter of pure geographical injustice. It’s the economic system that is driving climate change.” Looking at more optimistic messaging, she concluded the report-back: “Powerful positive actions are in play. We are life – fossil fuels are death. Paris is a moment to build movements, to show we are powerful and will fight into 2016 and beyond to solve the climate crisis. It takes roots to weather the storm ahead.”

    Responding, said former Bolivian negotiator Solon (now Bangkok-based director of Focus on the Global South), “I think we need a clearer narrative: let’s stop an agreement that’s going to burn the climate. We already know that agreement exists. If China peaks emissions only by 2030 or if we accept Obama’s offer to China, we all burn. The Paris agreement will be worse than the draft we’ve seen. The point is not to put pressure for something better. It’s to stop a bad deal. We are against carbon markets, geoengineering and the emissions targets.”

    But the clearest message came from veteran strategist Pat Mooney of the research network called the etc group, describing to the mass meeting what he wanted to see in Paris: “It should start like New York and end like Seattle. Shut the thing down.”

    Back in 2009, just weeks before he died, this was what Dennis Brutus – the mentor of so many South African and international progressives – also advised: “Seattle Copenhagen!” The Paris Conference of Polluters also needs that kind of shock doctrine, so that from an activist cyclone a much clearer path can emerge towards climate justice in the months and years ahead.

    Disconnecting the minerals-energy-climate dots
    By Patrick Bond, originally published in Pambazuka 13 March 2015

    Sometimes a single event reveals crucial stories about our strengths and weaknesses in advancing progressive social change and ecological sanity. Early last month I sought out intersections between three simple phenomena: the predatory extractive industries now looting Africa; our energy access crises (especially here in South Africa); and climate change.

    I thought that progressive civil society allies might begin to assemble their strengths in class, gender, race, generational and environmental consciousness; that they would fuse activist passion and NGO technical sophistication; and that they could draw upon lessons from Africa’s many great anti-extraction struggles.

    I fear I was wrong. Even with the best will, and amongst truly exceptional activists and strategists at the Cape Town Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) from February 9-12, a typical civil society “intersectionality” gap was glaringly evident.

    That clunky word – “the study of intersections between forms or systems of oppression, domination or discrimination” – is increasingly understood to be vital medicine to treat the NGO disease of silo-isation: being stuck in our little specialisations with historic prejudices intact, unable to lift up our heads and use the full range of human capacities to find unity.

    The AMI brought together more than 150 activists from vibrant African community organisations, another hundred or more NGO workers stretching from local to international, the hottest advocacy networks, a phalanx of public interest lawyers, a few brave trade unionists and even some curious armchair academics like myself. It should have offered the best conditions possible for intersectional work.

    The kick-off day included a set-piece protest march to the gleaming Cape Town International Convention Centre. The target: the corporate African Mining Indaba attended by thousands of delegates from multinational and local mining houses plus a few of their side-pocket politicians.

    There, former UK Labour Party prime minister Tony Blair gave a keynote speech notably hostile to “problematic, politicised” trade unions who enjoy class struggle more than class snuggle. Security was ultra-tight because Blair is, after all, regularly subject to citizen arrests because of his Iraq-related war crimes.

    And money was another reason no activists could make their case inside: the entrance fee was nearly $2000. For a taste of some of the grievances against the big mining houses, see the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre’s balanced fact sheet.

    The AMI’s internal critics told me they felt the march was tame and predictable. It was. Actually, the week’s best moment for confrontation was a small guerrilla theatre stunt just outside the convention centre. Pretoria’s Anglican Bishop Jo Seoka invited suited executives to drink the disgusting water that his grassroots allies brought from mining-affected communities. No one took the bait; and amusing video resulted.

    The march helped activists let off some steam, for they were angry at the blasé mood in both Indabas. Just beforehand in the opening AMI plenary, two charismatic keynote speakers – Zimbabwean democracy advocate Brian Kagoro and Matthews Hlabane from the SA Green Revolutionary Council – were joined by militants from several communities who raged openly against petit-bourgeois NGO reformism.

    Warned Kagoro, “We risk here, as the elite of civil society – civilocracy – becoming irrelevant. If you want mining to carry on, in just a bit more humane way, there will be another Alternative Mining Indaba happening in the streets.”

    Indeed, if the AMI does avoid that fate, a healthier future would probably require switching the event away from trendy Cape Town suburbs and instead convening a people’s assembly and set of (vernacular-translated, inter-connected) teach-ins located at various sites within the gritty mining belts sweeping from northwest to eastern or northern South Africa. Only in such venues can the masses properly hold forth.

    Perhaps with this bracing threat in mind, the march was followed by three days of exceptionally rich presentations and debates. The break-out rooms were filled with campaigning tales and most carried the frisson of outright opposition to non-essential mining.

    For example, asked the leading-edge critics, do we really need to drink the fizzy sugar water (Coca Cola products whose profits line SA Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s gorged pockets) from the tin cans (smelted in Richards Bay, South Africa, at a wicked cost in terms of coal-fired electricity) that we immediately toss away into the AMI hotel’s (non-recycled) rubbish bin?

    To slow the awesome destruction caused by senseless mining, some activists suggested UN “Free Prior and Informed Consent” language as the best way for communities to deflect prospecting. Techniques to delay Environmental Impact Assessments were shared. Tax justice narratives came in handy, given the mining houses’ prolific capital flight and illicit financial flows. Still other progressive lawyers suggested routes into the jurisdiction of legal reparations. And almost everyone complained of a Resource Curse in which multinational mining capitalists corrupt African politics, economics, environments and societies.

    I had a clear sense that no one believed minor Corporate Social Responsibility reforms will ever treat, much less cure, the Resource Curse. Instead, the reforms discussed were practical handles for raising concerns, getting publicity, adding a bit of pressure, and giving mining-affected communities – especially women – a sense of hope and solidarity.

    Still, for me, the event also provided a sobering and somewhat depressing lesson. Much more work is needed to generate intersectionality: connecting the dots to other issues, political scales and constituencies. The disconnects were obvious regarding three issues which might become vital elements in campaigning against extractive industries, in both the short and long term: electricity access, climate change and mineral economics. Consider each in turn.

    Just outside the AMI, but apparently unnoticed, South African society was seething with hatred against state electricity supplier Eskom. The increasingly incompetent agency has threatened near-daily ‘load-shedding’ (electricity black-outs for two hours at a time) for years to come.

    There’s not enough working power capacity (only 30 000 MegaWatts when 43 000 are technically available) to meet industrial and household demand most days. Mega-mining corporations have extraordinary access to that power, symbolized in 2014 when a former executive of the world’s largest commodity firm, GlencoreXstrata, was seconded into Eskom to represent mining interests: Mike Rossouw.

    Rossouw had for many years served as chair of the 31-member Energy Intensive Users’ Group (EIUG), the largest corporate guzzlers which together consume 44% of the country’s supply. The nickname Minerals-Energy Complex emerged 20 years ago thanks to very sweet Eskom deals that have persisted for most of the company’s 85-year history. For example, two of the world’s biggest mining houses, BHP Billiton and Anglo American Corporation, signed decades-long agreements supplying them at US$0.01/kWh, a tenth as much as what low-income South Africans pay.

    So South Africa’s load-shedding phenomenon should be blamed on both the multinational mining corporations and the local energy industry, and their allies in Pretoria and Eskom’s MegaWatt Park headquarters. This is not an unusual configuration in Resource-Cursed Africa, where vast amounts of electricity are delivered via high-tension cables to multinational corporate mining houses for the sake of extraction and capital-intensive smelting.

    Most African women meanwhile slave over fires to cook and heat households: their main energy source is a usually fragile woodlot; their transmission system is their back; and their energy consumption is often done while coughing, thanks to dense particulates in the air. Going from HIV-positive to full-blown AIDS is just an opportunistic respiratory infection away, again with gendered implications for care-giving.

    Given these intense contradictions, how could the AMI anti-mining activists, strategists, funders and intellectuals not connect the dots; how could they fail to put together load-shedding due to mining overconsumption, with most Africans’ lack of basic electricity access, and place these at or near the fore of their grievances so as to harvest so-far-untapped popular support for their programme of rolling back mining and rolling forward clean household electricity?

    A Cape Town-based “Million Climate Jobs” campaign already suggests how turning off the vast flow of electricity to South Africa’s smelters and mines would, in turn, help redirect employment there to more constructive, post-carbon activities: jobs in renewable energy, public transport, insulation retrofitting, digging biogas digesters and many others.

    As for communities, their class/race analysis of electricity access is expressed readily when they show visitors their own dirty household energy, often in the immediate vicinity of a massive mine, smelter or powerplant (see the excellent mini-doccie “Clear the Air” by the NGO groundWork, for example, or the fiery tv Big Debate episode on energy).

    So why can’t those dots – the environment-labour-community-feminist sites of struggle – be connected at the NGO-dominated AMI? Why do the words energy and electricity not even appear in the final AMI declaration, in spite of their extreme abuse by multinational mining capital?

    As I mulled over this paradox in the unlikely (luxury Hilton Hotel) AMI venue, my eye was caught by a flashy red-and-white document about South African coal, containing explosive information and some of the most vivid photos I’ve ever seen of ecological destruction and human suffering. It is full of horrifying facts about the coal industry’s wreckage: of public and household health, local environments, and the lives of workers, women, the elderly and children. (Regrettably there’s no web link and I won’t name the agency responsible in order to make a more general point and avoid singling out a particular example by name.)

    This particular booklet doesn’t hesitate to explain mining industry abuse via cooptation of African National Congress ruling-party elites via Black Economic Empowerment (BEE). Cyril Ramaphosa-style BEE translates into worse misery for the many, and enrichment for a very few such as South Africa’s deputy president. His billion-dollar net worth comes not only from that notorious 9% share of Lonmin and all that it entailed, but also from his Shanduka company’s filthy coal operations. With men like him at the helm, South Africa certainly isn’t going to kick the life-threatening Minerals-Energy Complex habit.

    It’s a good critique that connects many dots, and certainly the particular agency that published it is one I consider amongst the half-dozen better international NGOs. Their grantees do amazing things in many South African, other African and global contexts.

    Yet the coal booklet offered only a token mention – a few words buried deep in the text – about climate change. Though coal is the major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and although there’s a vibrant world campaign against coal mining in favour of renewable energy, the climate crisis was completely lost amidst scores of other eloquently-described grievances.

    Drawing this to the agency’s attention, I received this explanation from one staffer: “While climate change is a great middle class rallying point, it has no relevance to people living in poverty beyond their empty stomachs, dirty water and polluted air.”

    As we learned the hard way at the civil society counter-summit during the United Nations COP17 here in Durban, this may be a brutally frank but nevertheless true estimation of the hard work required to mobilise for climate justice. In the last comparative poll I’ve seen (done by Pew in 2013), only 48% of South Africans considered climate change to be a ‘top global threat’, compared to 54% of the rest of the world.

    Fortunately though, the terrain is fertile, especially in the South African provinces – Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal – attracting the most militant and sophisticated attacks on Big Coal anywhere in Africa. They are carried out by a myriad of militant community and environmental groups, including Mining Affected Communities United in Action, the Green Revolutionary Council, Bench Marks Foundation (a progressive church-based research/advocacy network), periodic critiques by radical NGOs groundWork and Earthlife (the latter hosts a branch of the International Coal Campaign), legal filings by the Centre for Environmental Rights and Legal Resources Centre, supportive funders like ActionAid, and women’s resistance organisations (supported by Women in Mining, Womin).

    Still, aside from communiqués by Womin feminists and occasional NGOs (mostly in passing), it is extremely rare that they connect the dots to climate change.

    A good example of disconnecting-the-dots emerged last week, when South African Environment Minister Edna Molewa infuriated grassroots communities, NGO activists and progressive lawyers who fight prolific pollution by mining houses, petro-chemical plants and smelters. Molewa’s job includes applying new Minimal Emissions Standards to 119 firms – including the toxic operations of Eskom, Sasol, AngloPlats, PPC cement, Shell, Chevron and Engen oil refinery – whose more than 1000 pollution point sources are subject to the Air Quality Act.

    Ten years ago when the law was mooted, these firms should have begun the process of lowering emissions. They didn’t, and so Molewa just let 37 of them (mostly the largest) off the hook for another five years by granting exemptions that make a mockery of the Act.

    Yet notwithstanding justifiably vociferous complaints, South Africa’s environmental NGOs (ENGOs) simply forgot to mention climate change. There was just one exception, Samson Mokoena, who coordinates the Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance: “Not only has Eskom been granted postponements, but so has the largest emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the country, Sasol.”

    (At its Secunda plant, Sasol squeezes coal and gas to make liquid petroleum, in the process creating the single greatest site of CO2 emissions on earth, and Eskom is Africa’s largest CO2 emitter by far when adding up all its plants together.)

    In contrast to Mokoena, one of the world’s top campaigning ENGOs ignored CO2 in predicting that Molewa’s decision will “result in about 20,000 premature deaths over the remaining life of the [Eskom] power plants – including approximately 1,600 deaths of young children. The economic cost associated with the premature deaths, and the neurotoxic effects of mercury exposure, was estimated at R230 billion.” Add climate change (that NGO didn’t, for reasons I just don’t get) and these figures would rise far higher.

    The excuse for giving Molewa a pass on the climate implications of her latest polluter-massage is that the Air Quality Act was badly drafted, omitting CO2 and methane. That omission allowed one of the country’s leading journalists to report, “The three pollution baddies that can cause serious health issues, are particulate matter (soot), sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.”

    Ahem, surely in such a list, GreenHouse Gas (GHG) emissions qualify as a baddy? More than 182 million Africans are expected to die prematurely by 2100 thanks to GHGs, according to Christian Aid.

    But Molewa “seemed to have developed a ‘massive blind spot’, ignoring how air pollution was transported over very long distances to damage human health in places far removed from the source of emissions,” alleged another international ENGO.

    Sorry, but just as big a blind spot exists when that very ENGO simply forgot about climate change, even though GHGs are co-pollutants with all the other air-borne toxins, transported over very long distances, wreaking enormous damage.

    There is, however, one thing worse than neglecting climate change when you have an excellent chance to raise consciousness: assimilation into the enemy camp. In some cases, civil society degenerates from watchdog to lapdog.

    I don’t mind naming what may be the most notorious, a multinational corporate tool called the WorldWide Fund for Nature (WWF), whose SA chairperson Valli Moosa also chairs AngloPlats. Moosa was responsible for what, five years ago, the SA Public Protector termed “improper conduct” when approving the world’s largest coal-fired power plant now under construction, Eskom’s Medupi.

    At the time, Moosa was serving as both Eskom chair and a member of the ruling party’s finance committee, and signed a dubious boiler-supply deal worth more than $4 billion with a company, Hitachi, whose local affiliate was 25% owned by Moosa’s party. The Medupi boilers needed to have 7000 of the welds redone. (The ruling party led the liberation struggle and regularly wins elections… but really isn’t too experienced at making coal boilers.)

    With a man like Moosa at the helm, I wasn’t too surprised when, a couple of days after Molewa’s announcement and a day after the SA finance minister yet again postponed introducing a carbon tax law, WWF’s Saliem Fakir “welcomed the government’s commitment to the mitigation of climate change and support which showed that South Africa was leading the way among developing countries in terms of policy measures towards easing the burden on the environment.”

    When WWF meets a toxic polluter or a captive regulator like Molewa, it seeks a snuggle-not-struggle relationship. It’s long overdue that it changes its acronym to WTF.

    In Naomi Klein’s brilliant new book and her husband Avi Lewis’ forthcoming film, ‘This Changes Everything’, we find crystal-clear linkages between climate (“This”) and practically all other areas of social struggle. For Klein, it is the profit motive that, universally, prevents a reasonable solution to our emissions of greenhouse gases: from energy, transport, agriculture, urbanisation, production, distribution, consumption, disposal and financing.

    In other words, the intersectionality possibilities and requirements of a serious climate change campaign span nearly all human activity. Through all these aspects of the world’s value chains, we are carbon addicted. In each sector, vested corporate interests prevent the necessary change for species survival.

    It is only by linking together our single issues and tackling climate as the kind of all-embracing problem it is, that we can soar out of our silos and generate the critical mass needed to make a difference.

    But in turn, that means that any sort of systemic analysis to save us from climate catastrophe not only permits but requires us to demand a restructured economic system in which instead of the profit motive as the driving incentive, large-scale ecologically-sound planning becomes the fundamental requirement for organising life.

    So it’s time, in civil society, that “capitalism” should be spoken about openly, even if this occurs now for the first time in many generations, especially in those politically backward societies – e.g. North America and Europe – where since the 1950s it was practically forbidden to do so.

    In much of Africa, in contrast, grievances against colonialism were so fierce that when neo-colonialism replaced it over fifty years ago, many progressive activists found courage to talk about capitalism as the overarching, durable problem (worse even than the remaining white settlers). In South Africa, anti-capitalist rhetoric can regularly be heard in every township, blue-collar (and red-collar) workplace, and university. Here, Moscow-trained presidents and even communists who were once trade union leaders have quite comfortably populated the highest levels of the neoliberal state since 1994.

    Talking about capitalism is now more crucial than ever. If we don’t make this leap to address the profit motive underlying so much eco-social chaos, then our economic future is also doomed, especially in Africa. One reason for that is what is sometimes called “natural capital” depletion: the minerals, gas and oil being torn out of the earth don’t grow back.

    The next logical question is whether, given the diminishing natural wealth that results, the economic activity associated with extractive industries is a net positive or net negative. In resource-rich Norway, Australia, Canada and the US, where the headquarters of mining and petroleum companies are located, the profits recirculate. According to natural capital accounts compiled in the World Bank’s book [url= Changing Wealth of Nations[/url], this plus educational investment gives these countries much higher net positive returns.

    Environmental damage is another matter – but on economic grounds, again, the critical question is whether the profits are being reinvested. Answer: in the Global North, yes; but in Africa, no! They’re being looted by multinational corporates and local comprador allies.

    That means that one of the AMI’s other dot-disconnections was any talk of the capitalist economy, or even mention of the way mineral resources are being stripped away so fast and with so little reinvestment that the net economic effect of mining is profoundly negative for the continent’s wealth. (This fact you need not accept from me; have a look at the Changing Wealth of Nations to see Africa’s -6% annual wealth effect from natural capital outflows.)

    What is the solution? Can Africans with intersectionality dot-connecting talents now more forcefully consider an eco-socialist model? If we do not recover the socialist traditions of Frantz Fanon, Patrice Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral, Walter Rodney, Ruth First, Thomas Sankara and Chris Hani, and to these add environmentalist, feminist and other intersectional arguments, the generations living now will have quite literally kindled next-generation Africans’ scorched-earth future.

    Large-scale planning may sound terrifying, given how badly earlier attempts turned out, such as the Soviet Union’s. On the other hand, Cuba has made the jump out of carbon addiction faster than any other society thanks to planning. Or just compare the well-planned and executed evacuation of Havana during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, to utter chaos in capitalist New Orleans. State-led innovations ranging from municipal water systems to the internet (a product of Pentagon R&D) are so vital to daily life that, unless denied them, we don’t think twice about their public sector origins and status as public goods.

    And after all, is there any other way to achieve the power shift required to overcome a climate disaster, than to build a movement for democratic state decision-making?

    To do so, though, requires a somewhat longer-term perspective than the average activist and NGO strategist has scope for, in sites like the AMI.

    If we do not make that leap out of the silos into which all of us have sunk, we will perish. We are so overly specialised and often so isolated in small ghettoes of researchers and advocacy networks, that I’m not surprised at the AMI’s conceptual impotence. Even our finest extractives-sector activists and strategists are not being given sufficient scope to think about the full implications of, for example, where our electricity supply comes from, and why mining-smelting corporates get the lion’s share; how climate change threatens us all; and how the capitalist economy makes these crises inevitable.

    The solution? A critical part of it will be to think in ways that intersect, with as much commitment as we can muster to linking our class, race, gender, generational, environmental and other analyses of the oppressed. Action then follows logically.

    Patrick Bond directs the University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society in Durban, South Africa.

     Events Index 2021
     Alex Lenferna CCS Webinar: A Green New Eskom? Wednesday 14 April 2021 
     N. Shange, M.A Varghese, S. Ngubane & N. Mbuthuma CCS Webinar: Young Civil Society and Contemporary Issue. Wednesday 31 March 2021 
     Saliem Fakir CCS Webinar:Unpacking South Africa's Just Transition-A conversation with Saliem Fakir. Tuesday 23 March 2021 
     Bruce Baigrie What Is The Ecological Crisis and How Do We Halt It? Wednesday 10 March 2021 
     Vishwas Satgar CCS Webinar: The Climate Justice Charter Response to the Worsening Climate Crisis and South Africa’s Carbon Democracy. Wednesday 3 March 2021 
     Clint Le Bruyns, Saajidha Sader & Fikile Vilakazi. CCS Webinar: “Coloniality is not over: it is all over” On reconstituting the deconstituted in and through the humanities. Wednesday 25 November 2020 
     Rosalind Hampton, CCS Webinar: Haunting colonial legacies in-and-of the Canadian University. Wednesday 18 November 2020 
     Remi Joseph-Salisbury, CCS Webinar: Anti-Racist Scholar-Activism as Decolonial Praxis in British Universities. Wednesday 11 November 2020 
     Ndumiso Daluxolo Ngidi CCS Webinar: The use of ‘Decolonial Methodologies’ to Foster Political Agency. Wednesday 4 November 2020 
     Tana Joseph CCS Webinar: Decolonising the Sciences. Wednesday 21 October 2020 
     Leigh-Ann Naidoo CCS Webinar: Statues Must Fall. Wednesday 16 September 2020 
     Marjaan Sirdar, CCS Webinar: George Floyd and the Minneapolis Uprising. Wednesday 9 September 2020 
     Hamid Khan CCS Webinar: Defund the Police, Abolish the Stalker State – A Global Fight. Wednesday 2 September 2020 
     Danford Chibvongodze & Andries Motau, CCS Webinar: The Organizing Principle - Understanding the Erasure of Black Women in Liberation Movements from enslaved... Wednesday 26 August 2020 
     Tiffany Caesar CCS Webinar: Black Mothers and Activism In The Black Lives Matter Movement. Wednesday 19 August 2020 
     David Austin CCS Webinar: #BlackLivesMatter - Igniting A Global Call For Change. Wednesday 12 August 2020 
     Thami Nkosi CCS Webinar Curbing Covid-19: Restrictions on Civil and Political Rights. Wednesday 29 July 2020 
     Avena Jacklin CCS Webinar: Covid-19 and Environmental Regulations in South Africa: Curtailing Public Participation. Wednesday 22 July 2020 
     Vuyiseka Dubula CSS Webinar: The Impact of Covid-19 on the South African Health System. Wednesday, 15 July 2020 
     Patrick Bond CSS Webinar: A Global Political Economy of Covid-19 Social Struggles. Wednesday, 8 July 2020 
     Thobani Zikalala CCS Webinar: Covid-19 Challenges in Higher Education – A Student’s Perspective. Wednesday 24 June 2020 
     Gillian Maree CSS Webinar: The Spatial Distribution of Risks and Vulnerabilities: The GCRO Covid-19 Gauteng Map. Wednesday, 1 July 2020 
     Dominic Brown CCS Webinar: Funding the Basic Income Grant (BIG) in SA Post Covid-19. Wednesday 17 June 2020 
     Mark Heywood CCS Webinar: The South African Civil Society Response to Covid-19: The good, the bad and the ugly. Wednesday 10 June 2020 
     Lubna Nadvi CCS Webinar: South Africa’s Covid-19 Response and Political Leadership. Wednesday 3 June, 2020 
     Brian Minga Amza CCS Seminar: The uncomfortable place of spirituality and religion in the struggle for liberation. Wednesday 18 March 2020 
     Andries Motau CCS in collaboration with docLOVE: Documentary Screening "Thank you for the rain." Wednesday, 27 February 2020 
     Danford Chibvongodze Documentary Screening: City of Joy to mark 16 days of activism for no violence against women and children. Wednesday, 20 November 2019 
     Akshi Behari, Michael Rout & Ronald Bafana Rebel Architecture Documentary Series: The pedreiro and the master planner(Part 6). Wednesday 30 October 
     Akshi Behari, Michael Rout & Ronald Bafana Rebel Architecture Documentary Series: Working on water (Part 5), Wednesday 23 October 
     Andries Motau CCS in collaboration with docLOVE: A documentary screening of “This Land”. Thursday 24 October 2019 
     Akshi Behari, Michael Rout & Ronald Bafana Documentary Series: Greening the city (Part 4). Wednesday 9 October 2019 
     Akshi Behari, Michael Rout & Ronald Bafana Documentary Series: The architecture of violence (Part 3). Wednesday 9 October 2019 
     Oliver Mtapuri, CCS Seminar – Why innovation matters: To invent or Not invent (at own peril). Thursday 26 September 2019 
     Akshi Behari, Michael Rout & Ronald Bafana Documentary Series: Rebel Architecture (Part 2). Thursday, 19 September 2019 
     Akshi Behari, Michael Rout & Ronald Bafana Documentary Series: Rebel Architecture. Thursday, 12 September 2019 
     Andries Motau, CCS & docLOVE Documentary Screening: JOZI GOLD – A Human Catastrophe, A Toxic City, An Unlikely Activist. Thursday 29 August 2019 
     Mvu Ngcoya CCS Seminar: Why Cuba’s Agricultural Revolution Puts South Africa’s Agrarian Programmes to Shame. Thursday 8 August 2019 
     Mzamo Zondi, CCS Seminar: Activist Co-Optation: Tasting State Power. Wednesday 31 July 2019 
     Philisiwe Mazibuko, Andre de Bruin and Patricia Ipileng Agnes Dove, CCS Special Seminar Series – Race and Identity Facilitated by Mvuselelo Ngcoya. Tuesday 30 July 2019 
     Danford Chibvongodze, CCS Documentary Screening – The Power of Us. Thursday 18 July 2019 
     Joyce Chitja, Discussants: Tapiwa Muzerengi and Xolisile Ngumbela. CSS Seminar: Uncomfortable Tensions in the Food (In) Security Conundrum - The Role of Communities in Southern African Contexts. Thursday 27 June 2019 
     Daniel Byamungu Dunia, CCS and ASONET Seminar: SA Legislation on the Socioeconomic Rights of Refugees and Asylum Seekers. Wednesday 12 June 2019 
     Lara Lee, Documentary Screening - BURKINABE BOUNTY. Wednesday, 5th June 2019 
     Isaac Khambule, CCS Seminar: A 5 Year Review of South Africa’s National Development Plan and its Developmental State Ambition. Wednesday 29 May 2019 
     CCS Documentary Screening: Everything Must Fall. Thursday 30 May 2019 
     Patrick Bond, Lisa Thompson & Mbuso Ngubane, CCS and African Centre for Citizenship and Democracy Seminar: The Local-Global Political Economy of Durban. Friday 17 May 2019 
     Judith Ojo-Aromokudu CCS Seminar: Understanding the spatial language of informal settlements in Durban: Informing upgrading programs for self-reliant and sustainable communities. Tuesday 7 May 2019 
     CCS and φowerfest! Free Public Screening: Shadow World. Thursday 25 April 2019 
     Lubna Nadvi, CCS and UKZN School of Social Sciences Seminar – What do party lists reveal about political parties contesting the 2019 SA Elections? Wednesday 24 April 2019 
     Lukhona Mnguni, CCS and the UKZN Maurice Webb Race Relations Unit Seminar: Elections 2019 and South Africa’s 25 years of Democracy "Where to from here?". Wednesday 18 April 2019 
     Sthembiso Khuluse and Daniel Dunia, CCS and the Right2Know Campaign Seminar: Your Right To Protest in South Africa. Friday 12 April 2019 
     Lerato Malope CCS Seminar: Service Delivery and Citizen Participation in Cato Manor. Wednesday 10 April 2019 
     Ranjita Mohanty, Ilya Matveev, Brian Meir CCS Seminar: Democratising Development: Struggles for Rights and Social Justice – An Indian Case Study. Friday 5 April 2019 
     Nduduzo Majozi, CCS Seminar: Housing Service Delivery in Cato Manor. Wednesday 27 March 2019 
     Danford Chibvongodze, CCS Documentary Screening: An Ocean of Lies on Venezuela. Friday 29 March 2019 
     Geoff Harris and Tlohang Letsie CCS Seminar - Demilitarising Lesotho: The Peace Dividend - A Basic Income Grant? Wednesday 20 March 2019 
     Thobani Zikalala CCS Seminar: Wokeness vs Consciousness. Wednesday 13 March 2019 
     Nisha Naidoo, CCS: Impact Strategy Workshop. Thursday 7 March 2019 
     Philisiwe Mazibuko & Percy Nhau, CCS Seminar: The ‘#Data Must Fall’ Campaign. Wednesday 6 March 2019 
     Mzamo Zondi CCS Seminar: Empowering Communities to Self-Mobilise: The TAC Method. Wednesday 27 February 2019 
     Nisha Naidoo, CCS: Impact Strategy Workshop. Wednesday 13 February 2019 
     Aziz Choudry and Salim Vally, CCS Seminar: History's Schools: Past Struggles and Present Realities. Tuesday 27 November 2018 
     CCS & Powerfest Public Screening "The Public Bank Solution: How can we own our oewn banks?". Thursday 8 November 2018 
     Dr Victor Ayeni, CCS and African Ombudsman Research Centre Seminar: Improving Service Delivery in Africa. Tuesday 6 November 2018 
     Alude Mahali, CCS & HSRC Present Documentary Screening & Seminar: Ready or Not!. Thursday 22 November 2018 
     CCS & Powerfest, Public Screening of "Busted: Money Myths and Truths Revealed". Thursday 25 October 2018 
     Henrik Bjorn Valeur, A Culture of Fearing ‘The Other’: Spatial Segregation in South Africa. Wednesday 7 November 2018 
     Danford Chibvongodze, Seminar Six: "Half Man, Half Amazing"- The Gift of Nasir Jones' Music to African Collective Identity. Thursday, 11 October 2018 
     Brian Minga Amza and Dime Maziba, CCS Seminar: 31 Years Later - A Consideration of the Ideas of Thomas Sankara. Wednesday, 24 October 2018 
     Ajibola Adigun CCS Seminar: African Pedagogy and Decolonization: Debunking Myths and Caricatures. Thursday 18 October 2018 
     CCS & Powerfest! Public Screening of "FALSE PROFITS: SA AND THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS". Wednesday, 26 September 2018 
     CCS Seminar: Co-Production of Knowledge - Lessons from Innovative Sanitation Service Delivery in Thandanani and Banana City informal Settlements, Durban. Wednesday 17 October 2018 
     Mxolisi Nyuswa, CCS Community Scholars Seminar: Complexities and Challenges for Civil Society Building and Unity: Perspectives from the KZN Civil Society Coalition. Thursday 27 September 2018 
     Eliza Solis-Maart, CCS Documentary Screening: Rural Development and Livelihoods in South Africa. Thursday 13 September 2018 
     Simbarashe Tembo, CCS Seminar: Constitutionalism in Zimbabwe: An Interrogation of the 2018 Election. Wednesday, 19 September 2018 
     Thobani Zikalala, CCS Seminar: Adopting a Black Consciousness Analysis in Understanding Land Expropriation in South Africa. Wednesday, 12 September 2018 
     CCS Community Scholar Workshop Activism and Technology. Wednesday, 29 August 2018 
     Eliza Solis-Maart, CCS Documentary Screening: Canada's Dark Secret. Thursday 30 August 2018  
      CCS UKZN & Powerfest!: Festival of Powerful Ideas, Public Screening: The D.I.Y Economy. Friday, 24 August 2018 
     Daniel Byamungu Dunia, CCS Seminar: Building capacity and skills for effective and successful integration of refugee communities in South Africa. Wednesday 8 August 2018 
     Eliza Solis-Maart, CCS Documentary Screening: Human Trafficking, Thursday 19 July 2018 
     CCS UKZN & Powerfest!: Festival of Powerful Ideas, Public Screening of AUTOGESTIo. Thursday 12 July 2018 
     Wenche Dageid, CCS Seminar: Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development – prospects for health and equity. Monday 9 July 2018  
     Sachil Singh, CCS Seminar: Questioning the Medical Value of Data on Race and Ethnicity: A case study of the DynaMed Point of Care tool. Thursday 5 July 2018  
     CCS Seminar: Should I stay or should I go? Exploring mobility in the context of climatically-driven environmental change, Wednesday 27 June 2018 
     Gerald Boyce, CCS Seminar: From blackest night to brightest day, Thursday 28 June 2018 
     CCS, UKZN and Powerfest Festival of Powerful Ideas: Cuba-An African Odyssey, 14 June 2018 
     Mvu Ngcoya, CCS and Critical Times, Critical Race Project Great African Thinkers Seminar Series 2017 / 2018: Land as a multi-splendorous thing: Kwasi Wiredu on how to think about land, Wednesday 30 May 2018 
     Deborah Ewing, Emma Goutte-Gattat, Aron Hagos Tesfai CCS and AIDS Foundation Seminar: Using technology to improve refugee and migrant access to sexual and reproductive health care?,Thursday 31 May 2018 
     Eliza Solis-Maart, CCS Documentary Screening: White Helmets, Thursday 24 May 2018 
     CCS, UKZN & Powerfest! Festival of Powerful Ideas: Celebrating Africa Month Stealing Africa, Wednesday 16 May 2018 
     Chris Desmond CCS Seminar: Liberation Studies: Development through Recognition, Wednesday 9 May 2018 
     Andrew Lawrence CCS Seminar - Obstacles to realising the 'Million Climate Jobs' Vision: Which policy strategies can work? When? How?, Friday 18 May 2018 
     CCS, UKZN, Powerfest: Festival of Powerful Ideas (FREE FILM AND POPCORN SERIES), Thursday 26 April 2018 
     Eliza Solis-Maart, CCS Documentary Screening: April Theme Earth Day "Seeds of Sovereignty" & "Cowspiracy"...Discover environmentalism. 19 April 2018 
     Alfred Moraka, How Not To Despoil Yourself of African Wonders: Oyeronke Oyewumi’s work as African Epistemological Enchantment. Wednesday 18 April 2018 
     Dr Joseph Rudigi Rukema, CCS Seminar: Entrepreneurship through Research - Converting Research into Community Projects. Wednesday 11 April 2018 
     Philile Langa, Centre for Civil Society and Critical Times, Critical Race Project Great African Thinkers Seminar Series 2017 / 2018. Thursday 29 March 2018 
     Confessions of an Economic Hitman, The Centre for Civil Society and Powerfest: Festival of Powerful Ideas 2018 Free Film and Popcorn Series. Wednesday 28 March 2018 
     Professor Siphamandla Zondi, CCS and International Relations, School of Social Sciences Seminar: Hearing Africa Speak Again - Amilcar Cabral’s Seven Theses on the African Predicament Today. Tuesday 27 March 2018 
     Eliza Solis-Maart, CCS Documentary Screening: #MeToo vs. Time's Up & We Should All Be Feminists. Thursday 22 March 2018 
     Documentary Screening, CCS and KZN Palestine Forum Documentary Screening: Anti Black Racism and Israel’s White Supremacy, 14 March 2018 
     Mary de Haas, Of Corruption and Commissions but no Conclusions Seminar Series: The Moerane Commission, 15 March 2018 
     Jay Johnson, CCS Seminar: Contested Rights and Spaces in the City: the Case of Refugee Reception Offices in South Africa, 13 March 2018 
     Daniel Byamungu Dunia,CCS and Africa Solidarity Network (ASONET) Seminar: The Trials of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants in South Africa , 1 March 2018  
     King Sibiya, CCS and Powerfest: Festival of Powerful Ideas, 27 February 2018 
     97% Owned, CCS and Powerfest: Festival of Powerful Ideas 2018, Documentary Screening Series 2018, 28 February 2018 
     Eliza Solis-Maart, CCS: Documentary Screening , 22 February 2018 
     Siviwe Mdoda, Right 2 Know (R2K) Campaign Seminar: Public Interest Information vs Private Information: Jacques Pauw’s ‘The President’s Keepers’ Case, 1 February 2018 
     Shaun Ruggunan CCS Seminar: Waves of Change: Globalisation and Labour Markets, 15 November 2017 
     Gerard Boyce The Dentons Commission, 1 November 2017 
     Ndumiso Dladla Prolegomenon to an Africanist Historiography in South Africa: Mogobe Ramose’s Critical Philosophy of Race, 25 October 2017 
     Eliza Solis-Maart CSS Seminar: Young Civil Society and Contemporary Issues, 11 October 2017 
     Rozena Maart Great African Thinkers Seminar Series 2017 / 2018 , 27 September 2017 
     Gerard Boyce CCS Seminar: Of Corruption and Commissions but no Conclusions Seminar Series, 20 September 2017  
     Shauna Mottiar CCS Seminar: Everyday Forms of Resistance in Durban, 1 September 2017 
     Mhlobo Gunguluzi and Thabane Miya Centre for Civil Society and Right2Know Campaign Seminar: The Right to Protest, 27 July 2017 
     Bandile Mdlalose, Daniel Dunia and Nisha Naidoo, The Peoples Economic Forum Responds to the World Economic Forum, 1 June 2017 
     Mvu Ngcoya, Rozena Maart, Shaun Ruggunan, Mershen Pillay Centre for Civil Society Seminar: Decolonising Curricula, 25 May 2017 
     Peter Sutoris, Environmental Activism and Environmental Education: (De) Politicising Struggles in India and South Africa, 18 May 2017 
     Lubna Nadvi, Lukhona Mnguni, Shauna Mottiar, The April 7th Protests, 20 April 2017 
     John Devenish, CCS Seminar: The use of interactive maps and scatter graphs to study protest in the BRICS countries, 13 April 2017  
     Shauna Mottiar, Mvuselelo Ngcoya BOOK LAUNCH: Philanthropy in South Africa - Horizontality, ubuntu and social justice, 22 March 2017 
     Peter McKenzie Photo Exhibition - Durbanity, 09 March 2017 
     Elisabet Van Wymeersch On change, conflicts and planning theory: the transformative potential of disruptive contestation, 2 March 2017 
     Daniel Byamungu Dunia, Africa Solidarity Network (ASONET) Community Building Workshop: CRIMINALISATION OF HATE CRIMES AND HATE SPEECH, 24 February 2017 
     Jasper Finkeldey, Centre for Civil Society Seminar: (No) Limits to extraction? Popular Mobilization and the Impacts of the Extractive Industries in KZN, 9 February 2017 
     Bandile Mdlalose, New Urban Agenda’ – Report Back from Habitat III, United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development Ecuador, 28 November 
     Patrick Bond, From Trump to BRICS, where is civil society headed? 18 November 
     Gerard Boyce, Arguments in favour of putting the South African government's nuclear plans to a popular referendum, 28 October  
     Duduzile Khumalo, Sibongile Buthelezi, Cathy Sutherland, Vicky Sim, Social constructions of environmental services in a rapidly densifying peri-urban area under dual governance in eThekwini Municipality, 26 October  
     Alex Hotz CCS Seminar: Challenging Secrecy and Surveillance: Building Anti-Surveillance Activism, 19 August 
     Itai Kagwere, Daniel Byamungu Dunia and Gabriel Hertis CCS Seminar: Challenges of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants in South Africa, 26 August 
     Delwyn Pillay CCS Seminar: Sight on the target: Tackling destructive fishing, 12 August 
     Carolijn van Noort CCS Seminar: “Strategic narratives of infrastructural development: is BRICS modernizing the tale?”, 26 July 
     CCS Co-Hosts: The Governance and Politics of HIV AIDS, 19 July 
     Moises Arce CCS Seminar: The Political Consequences of Mobilizations against Resource Extraction, 12 July 
     Zimbabwe's Despondent Political Economy - a Durban workshop to honour Sam Moyo 13-14 June 2016 
     Patrick Bond gives political economy lecture to Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Women in Business Forum, 26 April 2016 
     CCS hosts mining critics for press conference, 7 April 
     Assassination in Xolobeni: Film screening and memorial meeting for Sikhosiphi Bazooka Rhadebe, 6 April 
     Patrick Bond & Ana Garcia launch BRICS in Toronto, 31 March 
     Akin Akikboye CCS Seminar: KZN's Internally Displaced People, 31 March 
     Patrick Bond & Ana Garcia present critique of world ports, New York, 30 March 
     Dieter Lünse CCS Seminar: Strength of nonviolent action, 22 March 
     Hafsa Kanjwal CCS Seminar: India in Turmoil, 23 March 
     Patrick Bond testifies at public hearing on Transnet's South Durban plans, 21 March 
     Patrick Bond lectures on BRICS and Pan-Africanism, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 15 March 
     Yaa Ashantewaa K. Archer-Ngidi CCS Seminar: The role of Black women in liberation, 10 March 
     Patrick Bond reports on research into urban economic and ecological violence, IDRC & UKAID conference, Johannesburg, 8 March 
     Patrick Bond addresses Women in Mining (Womin) conference on movement building, Johannesburg, 7 March 
     Allen & Barbara Isaacman CCS Seminar: Dams, displacement, and the delusion of development, 4 March  
     Patrick Bond presents South Durban paper in Merebank, 2 March 
     Andrew Lawrence CCS Seminar: Why nuclear energy is bad for South Africa, bad for the world—and how it can be opposed, 29 February 2016  
     China Ngubane , Chumile Sali & Dalli Weyers CCS Seminar: Social Justice Coalition Citizen Oversight of Policing in Khayelitsha Court Case Presentation, 26 February 
     CCS hosts groundWork, SDCEA and FrackFreeSA for climate and energy workshop, 25 February 
     Patrick Bond CCS Seminar: Can the SA budget afford #FeesMustFall demands and other social spending? 23 February  
     Patrick Bond joins Mondli Hlatshwayo & Aziz Choudry to launch Just Work, Ike's Books, 22 February 
     Peter Cole CCS Seminar: A History of Dockers, Social Movements and Transnational Solidarity in Durban and San Francisco, 17 February 
     Patrick Bond lectures on BRICS at Univ of the Western Cape, Cape Town, 15 February 
     Delwyn Pillay, Jorim Gerrad, Madaline George & Nozipho Mkhabela CCS Seminar: A return to MUTOKO, Zimbabwe, 10 February  
     Nick Turse CCS Seminar: AFRICOM’s New Math and “Scarier” Times Ahead in Africa, 5 February 
     Menzi Maseko & Mandla Mbuyisa CCS Seminar: Black Consciousness, Fees Must Fall and Lessons from the Life of Ongkopotse Tiro, 1 February  
     Gabriel Hertis, China Ngubane & Daniel Dunia CCS Seminar: Central African and Zimbabwean geopolitics and their implications for Durban civil society II, 27 January  
     Patrick Bond keynote at Tata Institute Development Studies conference, 23 January 
     Patrick Bond, Thando Manzi, Bandile Mdlalose & China Ngubane present urban analysis at Tata Institute, Mumbai, 19-22 January 
     Patrick Bond, Achin Vanaik, Ajay Patnaik & Alka Acharya launch BRICS book, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, 18 January 
     Gabriel Hertis, China Ngubane, Daniel Dumia & Patrick Bond CCS Seminar: African geopolitics and their implications for Durban civil society I, 11 January 
     Events Index 2015 
     CCS students Boaventura Monjane, Mithika Mwenda, Tabitha Spence & Celia Alario at the COP21 climate summit, Paris, 1-12 December 
     Jorim Gerrard & Paul Steffen CCS Seminar: Influencing society's views of refugees, 9 December  
     Workshop on Climate Change and Environmental Justice with the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, 7-10 December  
     Ashwin Desai, Betty Govinden, Crispin Hemson & Andile Mngxitama CCS Seminar: The Gandhi debate, 27 November 
     Stefano Battain & Daniela Biocca CCS Seminar: Alternative development or alternative to development? 27 November 
     Patrick Bond debates Sihle Zikalala & Vasu Gounden on the state of South Africa, eThekwini Progressive Professionals Forum, 25 November 
     CCS Seminar: Remembering Sam Moyo, 25 November  
     Christelle Terreblanche debates Ubuntu at the University of Pretoria, 23 November 
     Patrick Bond & Toendepi Shonhe CCS Seminar: BRICS crumble, commodities crash and Africa's climate changes, 20 November 
     Patrick Bond seminar on BRICS banking at University of Cape Town School of Economics, 16 November 
     Delwyn Pillay CCS Seminar: KZN civil society responses to the Paris Climate Change Conference, 9 November 
     Patrick Bond with Numsa and BRICS climate critique at Historical Materialism conference, London, 5-6 November 
     Patrick Bond seminar on BRICS as sub-imperialism at Open University, 4 November 
     Andile Mngxitama CCS Seminar: Black First! but what is Black? 4 November 
     Patrick Bond debates BRICS and climate change at Sussex University, 3 November 
     Mondli Hlatshwayo CCS Seminar: Numsa, technological change and politics at ArcelorMittal's Vanderbijlpark plant, 22 October 
     Tri Continental Film Festival Screenings at CCS 21-24 October 
     Patrick Bond launches BRICS book in New York 19 October 
     Patrick Bond delivers keynote at Cyprus conference on mining and sustainable development, 16 October 
     Brian Minga Anza, Mwamba Kalombo Thithi & Sinqobangaye Magestic Pro Sibisi CCS Seminar: Creative challenges to xenophobia, 15 October 2015