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SOME OF OUR LATEST NEWS

Stop green, climate jobs being incinerated

Hundreds of waste reclaimers and small recyclers in South Africa stand to lose their climate-friendly jobs and be forced to return to a life of poverty. In a country with an over 45% unemployment rate, waste recycling becomes a source of income for those who would otherwise be impoverished.

Diverting valuable waste, such as plastic, cardboard, tin, glass and organics off the landfill to be recycled, also mitigates climate change by stopping the creation of methane through decomposition and having to create new landfills.

This will go up in smoke if the Department of Environmental Affairs agrees to private company Enviroserve's proposed construction of a waste-to-energy incinerator to take in general waste in Kempton Park, Gauteng.

In the short term, incinerators burn this waste to create energy, however, its social and environmental impacts outweigh the minimal energy it creates. Toxic air pollution and ash landfills are the main by-products produced by incinerators. This impacts on people's health in general and contaminates soil and groundwater with poisonous chemicals and heavy metals.  

In the long term, if materials are not being recycled, the extraction of more raw materials will take place through industrial practices that are destructive and promote climate change.

Take action now by clicking here to sign the petition calling on the Department of Environmental Affairs to promote green, climate jobs and not pass this waste-to-energy incinerator. Together with hard copy petitions signed by waste reclaimers across the country, the online petition will be sent to the Minister of the Department of Environmental Affairs in making sure that they do not approve the incinerator.

GOVERNMENTS GET ‘C’ GRADE SINCE MERCURY TREATY APPROVED - Governments globally must do more to curb supply and trade of mercury

Durban, South Africa, 30 October 2014 — Governments around the world are not doing enough to reduce the global supply and trade of mercury, according to a new report released today by the Zero Mercury Working Group (‘Zero Mercury’). But they are showing progress in other areas such as developing plans to reduce mercury use in small-scale gold mining and phasing out mercury-based chlorine plants.

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AIR QUALITY, COMMUNITY PEOPLE ADDRESS PARLIAMENT

Cape Town, South Africa, 27 October 2014 – Tomorrow in parliament, representatives from five environmental justice organisations will meet with the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs to discuss groundWork’s recent report on the failing governance and dangerous state of air quality in the country.

Last month, groundWork and its legal and community-based partners released Slow Poison: Air pollution, public health and failing governance, a report highlighting the little to no gains made in fighting poor air quality in South Africa and how we have got to this point. The Department of Environmental Affairs (the Department) has recognised the legitimacy of the report’s findings at their annual Air Quality Lekgotla in Durban between 6 and 8 October 2014. The parliamentary hearing has been called for in the wake of the public interest in the report, which was extensively covered by the media.

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ZERO WASTE APPROACH IS A MUST IN SOUTH AFRICA

Barcelona, Spain, 14 October 2014 – Un-recycled waste is a common sight and a sign of an inefficient governance and production system, which adds to the global burden of climate change.  A zero waste approach to the management of resources is what society needs. This week, waste recyclers or pickers in Spain will be imparting their experience of zero waste initiatives with their South African counterparts. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fourth Assessment report, “Waste minimization, recycling, and re-use represent an important and increasing potential for indirect reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the conservation or raw materials, improved energy and resource efficiency and fossil fuel avoidance.”

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RECLAIM POWER WEEK

10 October 2014 – Today is the first day of action in the Reclaim Power Week of Action, with a focus on the World Bank and the role of international financial institutions in fuelling the climate crisis. There are many actions planned under the #ReclaimPower banner and even more as a part of the broader collaboration of #WorldvsBank.

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BENEFITS OUTWEIGH COSTS WHEN REDUCING OUTDOOR EMISSIONS

Durban, KwaZulu Natal, 09 October 2014 – “As a global trend, the energy generating sector dwarfs the costs of indoor air pollution.” Yesterday, Professor Peter Orris of the University of Illinois, closed this year’s Air Quality Lekgotla [1] held by the Department of Environmental Affairs, with this statement, putting Eskom and industries like Sasol under the spotlight.

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DEA TO QUANTIFY COST OF AIR POLLUTION FOR FIRST TIME - Annual Air Quality Lekgotla to close with new findings

Durban, KwaZulu Natal, 07 October 2014 – Tomorrow, the Department of Environmental Affairs chaired by National Air Quality Officer Dr. Thuli Mdluli will outline the methodology to undertake a cost-benefit analysis for air quality in South Africa. This will mean that for the first time in South Africa we will begin to understand the costs of air pollution to society and the benefits of bringing heavily polluted areas and industry into compliance. 

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Civil society, on the streets and at teach-ins, demands an end to World Bank biases

Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa and Washington, DC, 06 October 2014 - On Friday, October 10, as the World Bank's Annual Meeting starts in Washington, civil society groups and Indigenous People's organisations across the world will campaign against the Bank. Our Land, Our Business, endorsed by over 235 organisations, will be staging 'creative resistance' events in Washington and nine other cities around the world. The Washington event is drawing support from a wide range of activist communities, including Occupy groups and representatives of affected communities from Kenya, Mali, and Ethiopia.

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HOSPITALS TO MITIGATE CLIMATE CHANGE

Cape Town, Western Cape, 30 September 2014 – The health sector’s mandate is to prevent and cure disease, yet the delivery of health care services, most notably in hospitals, often inadvertently contributes to the problem. The Western Cape Department of Health has, with the facilitation of NGO groundWork, recognized this problem and has signed onto an international initiative called the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) [2], which aims to reduce the ecological footprint of healthcare operations to promote public health through a cleaner and safer environment. 

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UN CLIMATE SUMMIT: A FOOL'S PARADISE

New York City, USA, 23 September 2014 – Commenting on statements made at the Climate Summit in New York City today, Friends of the Earth International Climate Justice and Energy coordinator Dipti Bhatnagar said that "the Climate Summit was a fool's paradise out of touch with the climate emergency we are facing".

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RIGHTS ORGANISATIONS PLAN TO JOIN SASOL AND NATREF POLLUTION LITIGATION

Cape Town and Pietermaritzburg 17th September 2014 - Two groups of environmental rights organisations have given notice of their intention to seek consent to be admitted as friends of the court (amici curiae) in court proceedings launched in May 2014 by Sasol and the National Petroleum Refiners of SA Ltd (Natref) against the government.

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THE TALE OF BAD AIR QUALITY IN SOUTH AFRICA

Johannesburg and Durban, South Africa, 15 September 2014 – Breathing is the most basic process of life. Slow Poison: Air pollution, public and failing governance, is a new report published by environmental justice organization, groundWork, Centre for Environmental Rights and community partners on the fatal state of air quality in South Africa. 

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FRACKING: LEGISLATIVE UNCERTAINTY UNDERMINES PUBLIC CONSULTATION ANNOUNCEMENT

George, Western Cape, 8 September 2014 – As of last week, the commencement of changes to the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) may have left the Minister of Mineral Resources without authority to make environmental regulations for fracking.

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