Nov. 29 (GIN) – Delegates from around the world are streaming into Durban, South Africa, for the U.N.’s Conference on Climate Change. Ironically, this is also home of one of the worst polluters on the continent, the Eskom coal-powered national electric company.
State-owned Eskom’s coal-fired power stations are responsible for 66 percent of the 6,000 tons of sulphur dioxide pollution spewed into the atmosphere daily.
Sulphur dioxide is dangerous to human health and to plants and corrodes buildings yet dirty and destructive coal plants are opening around the continent at a fast pace.
Prior to the opening of the Durban conference Tuesday, Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu, chair of the Africa Group of Negotiators for Climate Change, stated Africa’s concerns. “Africa wants an outcome based on science that is fair and honors the promises all countries have made in the U.N. Climate Convention and its Kyoto Protocol.
“African countries feel they have been “duped,” he stated at an earlier meeting, “because many of them have not seen the sustainable development benefits that were promised to them when they agreed to emission reducing projects under the Kyoto Protocol. Three countries – Japan, Canada and Russia – have already expressed reluctance to honor their promises and the United States repudiated its commitments a number of years ago.
“But the world cannot be held hostage by a handful of countries. Africa will not serve as the burial ground of the only legally binding treaty requiring those most responsible for causing climate change to reduce their climate pollution.
“We expect the polluters, and not the poor in Africa, to pay. Durban must deliver an agreement on finance… If we depart from promises made as recently as 2007, how can we trust what comes next? Africa is more than willing to play ball, but only if the other side does not keep moving the goalposts.” w/pix of T. Mpanu-Mpanu.