Newsletter 01/10



Africa Umoja in France up until 2 February 2010

After Paris, the musical phenomena UMOJA, which means “to live together” in the Zulu language, shall make stages vibrate throughout France during a tour that shall end on 2 February 2010:

Afrika in Casino de Paris

An unique show on 1st February 2010 - 8 p.m.. (

Copenhagen conference on climate; a statement of agreement on 18 December 2009 for an upcoming treaty?

Even if the discussions amongst the oldest industrialised countries which have been historically responsible for the deterioration of the climate and developing countries did not lead to the signing of a treaty, it did open up several positive avenues.

Each country agreed to not allow any rise of temperature above 2°C.

The industrialised countries furthermore agreed to reduce green house gas emissions by 20% to 30% as compared to the 1990 level.

A 40% reduction, however, is necessary.

Thirty billion dollars in financial aid to developing countries shall be provided between 2010 and 2012.

Above and beyond this, an annual amount of 100 billion dollars shall be provided up until 2020 in order to enable developing countries to implement mechanisms for reducing CO2 emissions by 15% to 30% by 2020, as well as forest protection programs.

South Africa was a very active participant in the discussions alongside the developing nations and France acted in a determined manner within the European Union.

It is hoped that within the next six months a treaty may be entered into under the auspices of the UN. It must be recalled that it was the UN which, more than twenty years ago, was at the origin of this immense project concerning climate the mobilisation for which was fostered on a world-wide scale by the NGOs.

South Africa considers the results of Copenhagen to be "unacceptable"

South Africa, which was one of the countries that took part in the drafting of the final Copenhagen agreement, nevertheless stated that the results of such conference were very disappointing and unacceptable, owing to a faulty process that damaged the confidence that had prevailed amongst the delegations of the United Nations countries.

Buyelwa Sonjica, Minister of Environmental Affairs, stated to reporters that her government had contemplated leaving the conference before it was over, but ultimately decided to stay following consultations with the other African countries.

Upon returning to South Africa, she made the following statement: "We do not defend it, as I stated, for us it's not acceptable, it's definitely not acceptable."

It should be recalled that China, in agreement with India, Brazil and South Africa, the other major emerging nations, had proposed a text in the beginning of December 2009 for the Copenhagen conference that was different from the draft final statement contemplated by Denmark. In spite of the financing promises that had been given them, this proposed agreement instituted a two-tier system which was restrictive for rich countries and more flexible for developing countries, China considering itself as belonging to the latter category.

This position taken by South Africa illustrates and confirms its mixed and ambiguous commitment in favour of the fight against global warming.

As a signatory of the Kyoto Treaty as a developing country, it is not currently subject to any reduction of its green house gas emissions.

Nevertheless, it is the fourteenth polluter worldwide and the eighth if one reduces the emissions to the number of inhabitants. Every South African emits seven tons of CO2. This results from the fact that South Africa is very dependent on coal, which is the source of 90% of national electricity.

Like the rest of sub-Saharan Africa it shall be severely affected by the consequences of climate change. Scientific work commissioned by the government in 2007 suggests that this could have very critical effects on whole sectors of the economy. The government therefore acknowledged in June 2008 the necessity of progressively adopting the goal of reducing emissions within a legislative and fiscal framework, but not before 2012. This is why in September 2009, in anticipation of the Copenhagen negotiations, the government declared its refusal to have emission objectives imposed on it by developed countries. At this time the spokesman for the government emphasised that, "reductions in emissions must take into account the development needs of the country."

The position of South Africa, which position is in line with that of other important emerging countries such as Brazil, China and India, therefore stresses economic growth as the major stake. The road towards action is consequently uncertain as socio-economic priorities must co-exist with the demands of the fight against climate change.