Greenpeace: Civil society will have to fight the ‘FLAB’

2011-11-29 00:00

THERE is a buzzword among environmental activists at COP17. Ask them what kind of deal they are expecting to come from the government negotiations, they will say “FLAB”.

Greenpeace executive director Kumi Naidoo spelt this out yesterday, saying FLAB stood for “full of loopholes and bulls**t”.

Naidoo was speaking at a seminar at Diakonia, Durban, organised jointly by the African Democracy Institute, Idasa and the eThekwini Municipality. He said there is concern among civil society bodies that Durban could become the burial ground of the Kyoto Protocol. At the most, governments could end up agreeing to a basic treaty to control carbon emissions, with some timelines that could be legally binding until 2015.

He added that his expectations for saving the environment do not lie with what is going on in the International Convention Centre (ICC), but with what is happening outside with civil society organisations.

“My biggest hope is with what happens in places like this [Diakonia] where ordinary people are meeting and talking. This is why I will be spending most of my time outside rather than inside the ICC,” Naidoo said.

He told the gathering that it is not government negotiators who are going to make the world a safer place for future generations. It is going to be the coming together of religious leaders, NGO leaders and progressive elements in government and business.

Naidoo added that conversations about a way forward in this regard are beginning to take place. He has been inspired during his travels to find that some of the best work on care and awareness about protecting the environment is being done by faith-based organisations.

He warned that developing countries complain about the vested interests of the West but it is the elite in these developing countries that behave significantly worse than their Western counterparts.

“Where do you get somebody buying a house in an upmarket suburb only to demolish it and have it built at eight times the cost? To have the obscene inequality we have developed so quickly in this country is unacceptable. The elite talks anti-poverty during the day and retreats to absolute luxury at night. There is this obsession with accumulation, accumulation, accumulation,” Naidoo said.

He added that it was greed that got the developed world into trouble and resulted in high carbon emissions into the environment. Hence climate change is not just an environmental battle, but one of morality and the need to be less selfish.

• nalini@witness.co.za

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