Climate guru rides into town

2009-12-07 00:00

The general level of understanding and support on climate change is very limited in South Africa, said climate change activist and author Robert Zipplies.

Zipplies arrived at Council House at the Royal Showgrounds after cycling from Cape Town via a number of cities and towns to promote awareness on climate change.

His 3 000 kilometre trip ended in Durban on Saturday, just two days before the start of the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen.

This initiative to conscientise people about taking action in response to climate change was taken in partnership with Project 90 by 2030. At the show grounds, uMgun­gundlovu District Mayor Yusuf Bhamjee and his entourage were part of the audience to listen to Zipplies.

Although the trip was adventurous, Zipplies says he is worried at the response he has received along the way on his various stops. He said people lack information about climate change.

“There’s a need for this subject to be discussed extensively in churches, schools, public and private institutions and in communities at large. It is so worrying to come across people who have no idea of what it is about; even at schools children are not well informed.

“Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said South Africans need to take climate change head-on like they did with apartheid, and I agree with that,” Zipplies said.

On cutting down on carbon emission, he said the solution would be to introduce a culture of bicycles and educate everyone from urban to rural areas about the importance of behavioural change in support of carbon emission reduction.

“South Africa is the leading country in greenhouse gas emissions in Africa. This calls for the country to play a leading role on the continent in the drive to encourage other countries to reduce emissions,” he said.

The Copenhagen negotiations are aimed at pushing the developed countries into assuming a much bigger role in dealing with climate change because, according to Zipplies, these countries have a bigger historic contribution towards emissions.

“Another important aspect of the negotiations will be to strike a deal with the developed nations to provide funding that will be used to assist the developing countries to adapt to climate change.

This is to ensure that mitigation targets meet the requirements of science,” he said.

Bhamjee said it’s everyone’s responsibility to change their lifestyle and attitudes in order to reduce their carbon footprint.

He said developed countries are responsible for almost three quarters of greenhouse gas emissions. “The countries that will be hit hardest by warming are developing countries. We can only hope that in Copenhagen the largest generators of greenhouse gases will agree to higher emission reduction targets,” Bhamjee said.

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