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Dirty Energy Week has come to an end, but the ‘unity started’ by the event ‘has a great potential to grow and be at the forefront of moving beyond fossil fuels”, says the South African campaign organiser, groundWork.

Last week Friday saw the ending of the Dirty Energy Week strategy conference, organised by the South African based environmental justice NGO, groundWork together with 14 national and international NGO’s, and community organisations.[1]

The conference was successful in creating a synergy among all the community people, NGOs and unions who are determined to expose the false energy solutions and carbon trading at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties 17 (COP17). It was emphasised that organisations and governments should be held accountable for their actions. Dirty energy projects including fracking, tar sands, big dams, shale oil, crude oil, coal to liquids, mining, oil refining and cleaner development mechanisms projects.[2]

Pablo Solón, the former Bolivian Ambassador to the United Nations, had delivered the closing address at the Dirty Energy Week. Solón, representing the Bolivian government, was the sole voice of conscience at COP 16 in Cancun, Mexico, and was the only delegation to vote against the outcomes of the Cancun negotiations which failed to make progress on the steep, binding emission cuts for developed countries that the planet needs for survival, according to all reputable scientists.[3].

Solón commented that the focus should be on the key issue which is the reduction of green house gas emissions and what the exact emission reduction numbers will be. He was concerned that the present rate of reductions is not happening fast enough. The KP should be amended so that solid commitment s can be made.

“If COP17, ends up with those emissions reductions will be minimal and temperature increase more than 4 degrees Celsius, we will burn our world and cook Africa. Finance, transfer of technology, binding agreement is important and also the numbers. If GHG emissions are low, we will lose this decade and will be unable to cover the next decade. Reports say exactly that, even Price Waterhouse Coopers says last year for first time greenhouse gas emissions grew more than GDPs,” he said.

Solón added that the situation can be changed if there is enough pressure from social movements. “We are all part of same battle against the one percent of the population who controls fifty percent of the resources. The real cause of climate change is capitalist system and way most developing companies work. We need a planet where we can all live. Our futures should not depend on just once percent of the population.”

The Dirty Energy Week campaign was brought to a final close with a march to the Durban World Cup Stadium, where the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Executive Board meeting was taking place. They have spoken up against the systematic disregard of the wastepickers communities in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) rules, which are impacting their livelihoods and increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This is the first of several actions planned by the Global Alliance of Wastepickers and allies at COP17, which is starting next week in Durban.

Simon Mbata, a wastepicker from Sasolburg, and the coordinator of the South African Wastepickers Association (SAWPA) is one of an estimated 30,000 wastepickers in South Africa. These wastepickers sort, collect and resell plastic, paper, steel, and scraps, earning a livelihood while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“The CDM is supporting landfill gas systems and incinerators that are taking away our livelihoods. Why do they keep registering projects that are burning or burying what we recycle? In the process of revision of the CDM methodologies for waste projects, are they going to take us into account and stop giving carbon credits to incinerators and landfill gas systems?”

“Meeting with so many community people from the frontline of fossil fuel struggles was amazing and strengthening to all our struggles. I believe that this unity started here has a great potential to grow and be at the forefront of moving beyond fossil fuels”, says Bobby Peek, Director of groundWork.


For more information contact:
Sharon Pillay
Media and Communications Manager, groundWork
Cell: 072 257 7317