Monday, November 28, 2011

The Real Mining Story?

This satirical video of the mining industry in Australia is not very subtle but... then the AMWU has never pretended to be that subtle.

 This is the real story - A paid Extra

The public link has been removed. Have to settle for this:

  This is the real story - Ship in, Fly out

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Andrew Charlton: Balancing Progress and the Planet

A binding agreement on carbon emissions is a totally unrealistic expectation of next week's Durban COP17 climate change conference. So what are the alternatives?

Adam Morton, Environment editor at The Age, explored some solutions with Andrew Charlton, author of the Quarterly Essay Man-Made World: Choosing between progress and planet at the Wheeler Centre on 23 November 2011.

“Progress has its price. Each step of human advancement has left a footprint on the planet. Today our two defining challenges are managing climate change and eliminating global poverty. In Copenhagen we learned that these challenges are inseparable.”

According to Charlton the lesson from Copenhagen is that changing geopolitics mean that the needs of the developing world must be met, as well as those of the developed world.

This will require an enormous effort globally of an unprecedented scale. On climate change, he argues that we need a total re-engineering equivalent to the Second World War. Similar action is required to double food production during this century as world population continues to climb.

He sees ingenuity as the key to the kinds of solutions necessary in both areas. Power needs to be less expensive but more available in developing countries by making clean energy cheaper than fossil fuels.

Current technologies such as wind and solar cannot deliver the kind of cutbacks in greenhouse gases that the Greens believe possible. Nor can carbon prices by themselves. Alternative solutions will necessitate a massive shift in focus to research and development of breakthrough technologies.

Charlton was not without some optimism. He believes that China is misunderstood. Its leaders are driven by four motives that together offer hope:
  • overcoming poverty through development
  • obtaining energy security
  • reducing air pollution
  • tackling climate change
Most of the big gains in technology will happen overseas. Australia needs to collaborate with countries like China on the technological solutions. When questioned about our carbon legislation he stressed that it is necessary, though even the 5% reduction from 2000 levels by 2020 is ambitious since it represents a 30 - 40 % decline from projected emissions.

He emphasised that the 'balance of risks' has moved on both climate change and poverty. Despite his misgivings that the risks are real, nuclear power must be part of the solution for many countries. Similarly GM crops have the capacity to meet the food challenge, as organic farming cannot deliver the necessary increases. We must be alert to the possible dangers without ruling out these unpopular options.

Needless to say, Andrew’s views were not popular with many in the audience, especially those supporting approaches such as the Beyond Zero Emissions plan, which he contested during the session.

Political leadership will be a decisive factor. Our leaders must focus on the cost of not acting.

Charlton’s presentation had the desired effect. It will be weekend reading. Watch this space or buy a copy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Climate Caravan Concert in Uganda

Latest post from Kodili in Kampala, Uganda about the arrival of the Trans African Climate Caravan on its way to COP 17 in Durban:
One of the events carried out was the climate justice concert. This was mainly to attract the attention of young people and educate them about climate change as they were being entertained. This concert was graced by the Vice President of the Republic of Uganda who pledged his government’s support in addressing the effects of climate change.
The power of music in saving the climate 15 Nov 2011

View The Trans African Caravan of Hope in a larger map
Love to be there!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Taking Hope on the Trans African Climate Caravan to Durban

Benadette Chandia Kodili is a Swarm Blogger with ActionAid Activista from Uganda. It has been my pleasure to work with her as part of the Global Voices youth mentoring project.

She is the Secretary for Female Affairs Uganda National Youth Council and a Member of Activista International.

This is her latest post:

Sunday 13 November 2011

The African Caravan of Hope is finally in Uganda. The Caravan team is made up of a number of Community Organisations that are moving by road from Burundi to South Africa for the COP 17. It set off on the 9th November and arrived in Kabale on 11th November 2011. When in Kabale we had a march through the town to the Municipal council grounds. Here we had a chance to interface with a number of people on climate change issues and have them speak up for climate justice.


This they did by signing a petition to be presented in Durban during the COP 17 to the world leaders.

I spoke with Alex Byamukama, a 17-year-old first born boy to a mother of two. He told me that his mother had to spend money on water for domestic use. The family used to rely on rain water harvest. But because the rains were no longer regular they were left with no choice but to buy water which is expensive for his mother.

In addition, Alex explained how neighbours and friends have all been complaining of a general decline in production, especially in sorghum which is one of the stable foods in Kabale, due to low rain fall.

To deal with the situation Alex's mother had resorted to being a house girl since their father died two years ago. After the death of his father Alex’s Uncle took over the little land his father had left, leaving Alex’s mother nowhere to cultivate any food. When Alex is olde enough, ownership should pass to him but until then Alex, his brother and mother remain landless.

"You told me you are going to South Africa to a climate conference. How does that benefit me?"  Alex asked me.  I had spoken to him as an adult, but this question all of a sudden made me see him as little boy. If only the world leaders would listen to the voices of those whose lives are a constant struggle and whose future is so uncertain, such as this brilliant boy, it might help them remember to reflect on the plight of the individual common person and consider the effects their decisions have on ground level before prioritising their own selfish interests.

My simple answer was, "We hope the World Leaders will sign a fair and legally binding climate agreement."

"What would you tell them if you could make it to South Africa?" I asked.

Alex replied,

"They should use other methods of development other than the ones polluting the environment!"

"I will carry this message to Durban, Alex" I said.

Good luck, Kodili!