Climate confab will be ‘a walkover for polluters,’ Nigerian activists warn

| November 10, 2015
A climate change protest in South Africa in 2011.

A climate change protest in South Africa in 2011.

(GIN)—The upcoming climate talks in Paris—opening Nov. 30—are already firing up climate activists who fear it will do little to avert climate disaster.

Nigerian environmentalist Nnimmo Bassey questioned the confab’s lofty goals when it was empowering corporations at the same time.

“It’s another walkover for polluters,” he said dismissively.

“The outcome is already known,” said the one-time winner of the Right Livelihood Award and former head of Friends of the Earth, Nigeria. “Just a package of non-binding promises and non-commitments… With Air France as official sponsor, polluting activities will smell really good in Paris.”

He warned that the most-polluting countries would be pledging emissions cuts that would barely restrain temperature rises

“That means low-lying islands disappearing, coastal cities flooding, mass species extinction, extreme droughts and weather catastrophes,” he said.

This week, the British weather office reported that global surface temperatures are set to soar above pre-industrial levels for the first time, as greenhouse gases hit record levels just weeks before the Paris talks.

The World Bank went further. Climate change will put another 100 million people into poverty in 15 years if developed countries don’t reduce their carbon emissions, the Bank’s newly-released study warned, triggering mass migrations and disease.

Other studies see rising seas covering large land masses in New York and Shanghai. Global warming could drive millions of people into poverty worldwide, they say.

Nigerian environmentalist Adesuwa Uwagie-Ero was perhaps the most skeptical about reaching the conference goals.

“The U.N. Conference on Climate Exchange (or COP 21) is where the powerful browbeat the weak and act in their narrow national interest. Nations like the US, Canada, Japan and Australia openly throw monkey wrenches into the works and then kick the decision-making can further down the road,” said the biologist based in Benin City. “The rapid slide down this slope began in 2009,” she adds, “and has worsened with every subsequent COP.”

President Barack Obama plans to be attending the upcoming Paris conference. He spoke of it last week, while announcing that the XL Pipeline, which would bring the world’s dirtiest oil from Canada across the United States, was now cancelled. Any other decision, he said, would have cost the U.S. its leadership standing at the talks.

Meanwhile, grassroots organizations have chalked up several major victories including the ending of plans by Shell Oil to drill in the sensitive Arctic region. This was hastened by a “blockadia” movement of social action groups who marched on a section of the XL pipeline, blocked the path of pipeline construction in Diboll, Texas, and occupied the Houston headquarters of TransCanada, the corporation contracted to build Keystone.

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Category: Africa Briefs

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