Press Release: Copenhagen, the End Days

Press Release: Copenhagen, the End Days
Earthlife Africa Jhb
17th of December 2009

NGOs Banned, Corporate Influence, South Africa’s Shoddy Emissions Offer

# NGOs Banned

The second week of climate change negotiations has been filled with a feeling of even more tension and anticipation – not only due to the fact that the talks are going to be a failure but because the Danish police are clamping down on activists throughout the city. There have been numerous reports of arrests and harassment. Yesterday (Wed. 16 December), it was reported that the police dispersed a legal protest using tear gas and batons.

The pressure was also increased by the UNFCCC as they have restricted the numbers of observers that are being allowed into the conference centre. The numbers have been dropped from 15000 to 1000 on Thursday 17 December 2009 and to 500 on Friday 18 December 2009. In addition the UNFCCC has revoked international NGOs, Avaaz and Friends of the Earth, badges due to an “unauthorised” activity within the centre on Monday. The activity was peaceful and involved people clapping in favour of Africa in the lobby area.

# Corporate Influence

Given the poor state of negotiations, civil society organisations have a role to play to increase the pressure on political leaders. This is especially important for South Africa, as business has a close relationship with the government delegation. Both Eskom and Engen have representatives on the delegation, while civil society has been excluded.

Eskom is one of the biggest GHG emitters in South Africa and is planning to build two more coal fired power stations. Engen oil refinery has often been found guilty of exceeding the pollution health guidelines values on numerous occasions. South Africa’s very own Sasol was found to be one of the top six worst climate change lobbyist in the planet, with Monsanto being the worst (see

As business colludes with governments it is almost definite that we will not have a “fair, ambitious and binding climate deal.”

# South Africa’s Shoddy Emissions Offer

After nearly two weeks of asking the South African Government for details on its emissions offer, Earthlife Africa Jhb has finally found out the crucial information. [1] The Government is offering to “cut” emissions from the Growth Without Constraint (GWC) scenario in the Long Term Mitigation Scenarios (LTMS). The LTMS was endorsed by cabinet in July 2008.

The main problem behind this offer is that GWC is fantasy, essentially an academic exercise to see how much carbon South Africa would produce given unlimited resources and cheap energy prices. In fact, South Africa couldn’t embark on the GWC baseline even if it desired, as it simply does not have the capital resources that the GWC would require.

The LTMS concludes that, “…the Growth without Constraints is in fact a contributor to catastrophic impacts, it becomes implausible. The Scenario Building Team concluded unanimously that Growth without Constraints is neither robust nor plausible…”

Therefore, the so called reductions come from such an artificially high (and completely theoretical) projection that a 34% reduction in 2020 is meaningless. In 2020, the GWC predicts that South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) would be about 870mt per annum. A 34% reduction would mean that South Africa’s GHG emissions would peak at 574mt per annum, which is about where it would be if South Africa did nothing in addition to its current electricity generation plans. In effect, the Government’s emission reduction offer is business as usual.

What does the South African Government’s own scientific analysis of what South Africa must do state? The LTMS clearly states that scientific wisdom suggests that South Africa should peak in 2020 at 470mt. Further, the LTMS thinks that peaking at 470mt is possible.

The South African Government has pulled a public relations stunt. The emissions reduction offer is not based on actual emissions in the country (but artificially high theoretical emissions), doesn’t actually reduce emissions, and is contrary to its own scientific analysis.

If South Africa is the star of the Copenhagen Summit with this kind of carbon accounting, then it is not hard to see why the Summit is failing.

For more information, please contact:

# Denmark

Ferrial Adam
Research Officer
Earthlife Africa Jhb
Danish Cell: +45 5 269 5131

# South Africa

Tristen Taylor
Project Coordinator
Earthlife Africa Jhb
Tel: +27 11 339 3662
Fax: +27 11 339 3270
Cell: +27 84 250 2434

[1] See for Earthlife Africa Jhb’s initial concerns about South Africa’s offer.

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