From the TUC

Durban diary 8: “If global warming reaches 2 degrees, Africa will be a terrible place”

07 Dec 2011, by in Environment

“The game of ping-pong between the US and China at climate conferences is becoming more and more tiresome.”

UN Climate Change Conference, DurbanThe leader of the European Parliament delegation here in Durban added that, “Once again, the two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases are not contributing towards achieving a binding, global climate agreement.”

ITUC delegate Gladys Branche (Sierra Leone Labour Congress) reported from a meeting with the Africa Group that the conference President is now setting up a task force to draft a statement for the wider G77 group that will hopfully match the EU’s commitment to a second Kyoto Protocol. The ITUC focus through unions in the G77 group of developing nations can have a strong bloc influence on China itself. We have to sustain pressure to counter the “low ambition” lobby at work here in Durban.

Each day we’re tracking the progress on labour and human rights issues here. So far the position we built a year ago holds good, with text on green jobs, decent work and just transition emerging in new papers in circulation. Of course, nothing is given here.

This is my last TUC blog from Durban. If there’s one issue that stands out here it’s the position of many African nations on the climate change frontline, the chance of geography reinforcing the massive challenges of poverty eradication and development.

South Africa’s leading trade union figure, COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, has said:

“We demand action not tourism. This cannot be a world conference in which everybody came just to have a nice time.”

At a meeting organized by the ITUC yesterday Vavi added:

“The irony of all of this is that these talks are taking place in Africa, which is a crime scene. Climate change is hurting communities all across the continent. We are already seeing climate havoc. If global warming reaches 2 degrees, Africa will be a terrible place in all respects. It is a catastrophic situation – both economically and environmentally.”