The Paris draft agreement says its purpose is to limit global warming to ‘well below’ 2 degrees and to ‘pursue efforts’ to limit it to 1.5 degrees. But it cuts all links with the means of doing this and in reality puts the world on track for 3 to 4 degrees warming. That means 5 to 8 degrees warming for Africa with terrible heatwaves, droughts and floods. It means that our coastal cities will drown. It means that hundreds of millions of people will die in this century, as our food systems and ecological systems collapse.

Africa has done little to cause global warming. Over the last two centuries and more, the imperial powers and corporations have plundered Africa. It started with the enslavement of millions of people and it includes the extraction of fossil fuels and minerals and the appropriation of vast tracts of land. This plunder is accompanied by extraordinary environmental destruction. Our air is made toxic, our water is poisoned and our lands are destroyed. Climate change comes on top of these local impacts.

This plunder made and makes the imperial powers rich while the people of Africa are impoverished. We are now abandoned to the coming fury. The draft agreement avoids recognition of the climate debt owed to the people of Africa. It sees the need for adaptation but provides only paltry resources. And it absolves the imperial powers of any liability for ‘loss and damage’ resulting from climate change.

As previously, the draft agreement promises to ‘mobilise’ resources. The imperial powers are committed to nothing but the photo opportunities. They have already shown their capacity to manipulate the numbers, rebranding development aid and counting loans and private investments made for profit as climate finance. This is merely a promise to continue the plunder.

And that promise is repeated in text that frames ‘sustainable development’ in market terms. The text provides for carbon trading involving presumed reductions as well as sequestration through REDD and other mechanisms directly associated with land and water grabs. REDD stands for ‘reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation’. It is just one of many examples where words are made to mean the opposite of what they say.

Bobby Peek, Director of Friends of the Earth, South Africa: “We call on African governments to negotiate as if our lives mean something. If they cannot put a good deal on the table, we call on them to walk out of the Paris talks.”

Kwami Kpondzo, Campaigns Officer of Friends of the Earth, Togo: “At the local level we will continue to resist with communities, support movement building and develop our democracties to hold political leaders to account for this inaction. We will fight to save our world.”

Geoffrey Kamese, Senior Programme Office, Friends of the Earth, Uganda: “After 23 years of negotiations we are facing a 4 degree world. Fossil fuel linked developments are increasing, going against all the science based evidence. We fear already it is too late to save Africa, save its people and save the world. We have 12 hours left to ensure Africa does not burn with increasing temperatures.”


Image: Shever & Kimmrs