News / Africa

Environmental Groups Praise BASIC Meeting on Climate Change

Environmental groups are giving qualified praise to a conference on climate change by four major nations in the developing world.  During a meeting in South Africa, they made recommendations aimed at boosting talks on reducing carbon emissions. 

Activists have welcomed the call by Brazil, South Africa, India and China, known as the BASIC countries, for a global, legally binding agreement on climate change by the end of next year.

A political advisor for Greenpeace Africa, Themba Linden, said the meeting in Cape Town was a positive development, after the near-failure of the U.N. climate change conference last December in Copenhagen.

"There is momentum coming out of these countries after what was essentially an almost collapsed negotiation in Copenhagen," he said. "And certainly the whole approach of the BASIC countries since Copenhagen has been one of trying to create more opportunities for discussion and essential speeding up the whole schedule."

The Copenhagen Conference was widely criticized for failing to produce a treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

A small group of nations led by the United States eventually drafted a last-minute accord that has been endorsed by 120 governments, but is still viewed by many as insufficient.

Linden said especially helpful was China's new willingness to back legally binding emission reductions, which it had previously opposed.

"China openly calling for a legally binding agreement, this is awesome progress, definitely," he said.  "And also Greenpeace Africa is very happy with the continued concern shown by these ministers for vulnerable countries."

He noted that the emerging economies of the BASIC countries are now responsible for about 30 percent of carbon emissions worldwide.  Yet, as developing nations, they are in a good position to defend and bring the least wealthy nations back into the negotiations after they were largely sidelined in Copenhagen.

South Africa's Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica, speaking at the end of the Cape Town meeting, urged industrialized nations to fulfill short and medium-term financing commitments to the most vulnerable nations as agreed in Copenhagen.

"The commitments to provide finance must be operationalized, both the $30 billion for 2010-2012 and the $100 billion annually by 2020 should be provided by developed countries," he said.

The least wealthy countries, many of which are highly vulnerable to climate change, are concerned that industrialized nations will take funds from existing poverty-alleviation programs to fulfill their short-term pledges on climate change.  They want additional funds for their emission reduction efforts

Linden said the issue of short-term financing could be one of the breakthroughs that are needed to rebuild trust between the various parties.

He welcomed the pledge by BASIC countries to help the most vulnerable nations implement emission reduction programs, but noted the pledge is vague.

"We think the BASIC countries have covered a lot of points in this meeting quite clearly," said Linden. "But we desperately need more detail.  We are still lacking detail on how they are going to translate this into action."

Activists note that BASIC countries have scheduled two more meetings prior to the next global conference in Cancun, Mexico, this December.  They say this might provide the momentum needed for a successful conference.

But they say a large gulf remains between the various positions on emission reductions and as a result many are looking more realistically to the conference next year in South Africa for the accord, which they say the world so desperately needs.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs