groundWork is a non-profit environmental justice service and developmental organization working primarily in Southern Africa in the areas of Climate & Energy Justice, Coal, Environmental Health, Global Green and Healthy Hospitals, and Waste.
THE LANCET: TACKLING CLIMATE CHANGE GREATEST GLOBAL HEALTH OPPORTUNITY OF 21ST CENTURY - Health commission labels climate change a “health emergency”.
Durban, South Africa, 23 June 2015 – The threat to human health from climate change is so great that it could undermine the last fifty years of gains in development and global health, said leading medical journal The Lancet in its 2015 Commission on Health and Climate report. South Africans are at serious risk from the health impacts of heatwaves, extreme weather, droughts, increasing spread of climate sensitive diseases, and associated mental ill health.
This report updates and builds on the ground breaking UCL-Lancet Commission published in 2009 when climate change was first described as the “biggest global health threat of the 21st century”.
ARCELORMITTAL’S ENVIRONMENTAL MASTER PLAN MADE PUBLIC BY VAAL COMMUNITIES
Johannesburg, South Africa, 19 June 2015 – In November 2014, the Supreme Court of Appeal handed down judgement in the case of steelmaker ArcelorMittal South Africa (AMSA) against community organisation the Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance (VEJA), ordering AMSA to hand over the 2003 Environmental Master Plan for its Vanderbijlpark steel plant. The Master Plan, sought by VEJA for more than a decade, was eventually handed over by AMSA on 17 December 2014.
On 22 June 2015, VEJA is making the AMSA Master Plan available to the public.
Venue: Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, 237 Jan Smuts Ave, Parktown North;
Date: Monday, 22 June at 11.00.
Copies of the Master Plan will be available
GOVERNMENTS RECOGNISE AIR POLLUTION’S THREAT TO HUMAN HEALTH - South Africa agrees on WHO’s first resolution on air pollution.
Geneva, Switzerland & Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 1 June 2015 – The world’s governments took an important step forward in recognizing air pollution as a major threat to human health, by issuing a resolution at the World Health Assembly in Geneva this week. The resolution mandates greater engagement by the World Health Organization (WHO) to address a problem responsible for one out of eight deaths worldwide.
PUSHBACK ON EXTRACTIVE ACTIVITIES IN AFRICA BY FRIENDS OF THE EARTH GROUPS
Kampala, Uganda & Pietermartizburg, South Africa, 26 May 2015 – Friends of the Earth Africa (FoEA) groups have decried the impact of extractive companies’ operations across the African region, cautioning that if communities are not adequately empowered to advocate for and defend their rights, more of them will be displaced leading to conflicts.
The groups made the call during a solidarity mission to oil host communities in Bunyoro sub-region (Albertine Region, Uganda) currently grappling with the challenges associated with the developing oil industry in the country. Participants in the solidarity visit were Friends of the Earth International, FoEA member groups from Uganda, Nigeria, Togo, Tanzania, Cameroon, Ghana, Mali, Tunisia and South Africa.
COLENSO POWER STATION A NO-GO OPTION
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 13 May 2015 – A 1050MW coal-fired power station with its own new coal mine has been proposed for Colenso by Colenso Power, a business created to build and run it. Colenso Power claims that the project is necessary to address the present electricity shortage. Commenting on the Draft Scoping Report (DSR), groundWork argues to the contrary that, by the time it is built, there will be a surplus of generating capacity.
This conclusion follows the projections of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2010 ‘Update’. The first unit of the Medupi coal-fired power station in Lephalale, Limpopo will come on line in mid-2015 and, even allowing for further delays, the plant should be completed by 2018. The Kusile coal-fired power station near Emalahleni, Mpumalanga is also delayed but the first unit should be producing power within the next two years.
Further, this new plant cannot be reconciled with the national policy on climate change. This is considering the fact that existing coal-fired power stations already make South Africa one of the highest emitters of greenhouse gasses globally, and indeed the highest emitter in Africa. Despite this, the DSR does not contain a single reference to climate change.
Any additional energy needs should rather be supplied by renewable resources.
AFRICAN AND FRENCH CIVIL SOCIETY CHALLENGE FRENCH FUNDING OF DIRTY ENERGY
Johannesburg, South Africa/Paris, France, 13 May 2015 - This Friday, 15th of May, over a thousand protesters, organised by Earthlife Africa, will descend on the French Consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa. The protesters demand an end to the destructive climate policy of the French government and French company Engie (formally GDF Suez) in which the French state is a 33% shareholder. As France prepares to host the international climate negotiations, COP21, at the end of this year, protestors demand that France stop exporting dirty coal to Africa.
Earthlife Africa Johannesburg demands that Engie stop its investments in dirty coal in South Africa. Engie plans to build a 1200MW polluting coal-fired power station in the ecologically fragile Waterberg in Limpopo province.
Young Friends of the Earth France will hold a demonstration in Paris on the same day, in solidarity with the South African picket. They demand their government and energy company to divest from dirty energy in developing countries such as South Africa. Rather, they call on the French government to support transfer of resources and technology to developing countries to facilitate community-led renewable energy projects.
ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE ORGANISATIONS SUE ETHEKWINI FOR ACCESS TO REFINERY LICENCES
Durban, South Africa, 5 May 2015 - Environmental justice organisations the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance and the Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance have launched legal proceedings in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court to force eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality to release the atmospheric emission licences and compliance reports of two south Durban refineries.
Atmospheric emission licences govern the amount of pollution industries can emit into the atmosphere.
These court proceedings form part of a critical larger battle to achieve public access to all industry environmental licences and compliance reports.
South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) and Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance (VEJA) are represented by attorneys at the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER).
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