Author: Bridget Ringdahl,National Coordinator WESSA/WWF Eco-Schools Programme at Wildlife & Environment Society of South Africa and Climate Reality Leader
WESSA Water Explorer and Eco-Schools, were invited to attend and assist with facilitating at the Durban Adaptation Charter (DAC) Southern African Regional workshop for Climate Change in Durban on the 14th and 15th of October. What is the DAC?
The DAC is a means of assisting local governments in Southern Africa to work toward local climate solutions. The workshop was a first of its kind in Southern Africa and was particularly important in light of COP21, which is set to take place in Paris at the end of November. COP21 is a very important global meeting where all countries come together to discuss and hopefully act on Climate Solutions.
Water Explorer and Eco-Schools assisted with facilitating some of the workshop sessions that were both enlightening and worrying in many ways. Many high profile sustainability experts and Climate leaders were there to present and engage the group of about 180 participants from 15 African countries. The Climate Reality Project hosted two workshops that were facilitated by the very passionate Mario Molina. The director of Green Peace Africa, Michael O’Brian-Onyeka, spoke on the current science and projections for climate change. 2015 is set to be the hottest year on historical record, and this is only with a 0.8°C temperature increase. Many of the speakers reiterated that in the best case we will get away with a minimum of a 2°Ctemperature rise. So if we are concerned and anxious about current strange weather patterns, imagine what they will be like with a 2°C increase? It is therefore critical that our politicians and decision makers take heed in these strong messages and we can only pray, hope, wish that at COP21 there will be negotiations of reason and that good logic will prevail to ensure that we don’t exceed this boiling point.
That said, there was some encouragement from Johan van den Berg, CEO of South African Wind Energy Association, who explained the relative successes of the expansion of wind and solar energy in the South African Energy sector. In as little as four years, the industry has built 92 projects, which are worth 11 billion US. But why aren’t we hearing about this? Why is so much of our news directed at fracking, the building of coal-fired power stations and the expansion of nuclear energy? Our government needs to wake up. We cant’ drink gas, and we cannot survive in a plundered environment.
Although we felt a renewed sense of urgency to take action, there were two points that we felt not addressed during these talks. One was the question of human population and the other animal agriculture, which contributes to nearly 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions. When are we going to be brave enough to face up to these two crucial issues? If we don’t, our days are well and truly numbered!
At least we know differences can be made and we will continue to encourage our Water Explorer and Eco-Schools programmes to forge ahead with their valiant and meaningful efforts, at the moment these young children appear to be the only ones we can rely on!
(Bridget Ringdahl and Charlene Russell were fortunate enough to attend the Climate Reality training by former US vice-president Al Gore in JHB in 2014, thank you for these engaging opportunities).