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Director of groundWork-Friends of the Earth South Africa, Bobby Peek, said the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change that is taking place in Durban is the “conference of the polluters”.
“It’s the truth, it’s not just a joke. In the Conference of the Parties we have corporate capture, we have big companies like Sasol and Eskom (South African state-owned oil and energy corporations respectively) on the South African government delegation and they have a very influential role. And these are the same companies that in South Africa do not want emissions targets, so they go to the Parliament and say NO”, Peek told Real World Radio.
Sasol and Eskom are pointed by several South African and international social movements as two of the country’s largest polluters, which largely contribute to climate change.
Peek does not have high expectations as regards to the South African government and its role in the COP as president of the negotiations.
“We can’t expect a lot from the South African government because they’re clearly not listening to the people, they’re listening to corporates”. South Africa “must be with Africa” it must not be with the US or Europe working on a position that keeps us a little above 1 degree Celsius, a position that secures funding for adaptation and “a position that secures that Africa will not burn”, he said.
Peek said South Africa is responsible for 42% of Africa’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. The country produces energy from coal that benefits big transnational corporations. He also mentioned that Australian oil corporation BHP Billiton uses up to 10 to 11 per cent of all of South Africa’s energy supply, while communities only use 16% of the electricity generated.
GroundWork and Friends of the Earth Africa struggle to get equitable, affordable and non harmful energy for people on the ground. They are working on an energy sovereignty campaign to “democratize” energy to make it accessible for communities.
Peek explained the concept of energy sovereignty and criticized the South African government’s push for nuclear energy and assessed the “Dirty Energy Week” that groundWork organized in Durban from November 22 to 25.
He concluded saying: “The important thing as Friends of the Earth International is that the 99% should be occupying the COP rather than only the 1% dictate the doom and the gloom of what’s going to happen to the planet if we leave it to them over the next few decades”.
Watch interview with Bobby Peek.
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