South Durban, South Africa, across the city from the conference center where thousands of UN delegates debate climate change solutions, is home to the second largest petrochemical complex in Africa. Like petrochemical plants around the world, South Durban is a site of daily climate crimes and massive community health problems from toxic releases, explosions, fires and workplace accidents and hazards. The asthma rate among schoolchildren is a staggering 80 percent. Two months before COP17 convened here, a refinery explosion and fire caused 100 children at a nearby school to be hospitalized with burns and acute skin and respiratory issues. Engen, the petrochemical Company responsible, responded by donating 100 new uniforms to the school. A second explosion occurred two days before COP17 began.
As National delegates to the climate conference down the road negotiate, for the seventeenth straight year, over how to “leverage funds” and build “private sector engagement” to make a transition to a “green economy” and “climate friendly development,” here is what a handful of North American Indigenous People and their African allies have to say about the cost of ongoing fossil fuel development, which shows no sign of abating.
For more in-depth note, see the previous post. For the street-level view, watch the short videos below.
– Jeff Conant, for GJEP
Daniel T’seleie, K’asho Got’ine Forst Nation, Fort Good Hope, Canada:
Ben Powless, Mohawk from Canada:
Nnimmo Bassey of Nigeria, Chair of Friends of the Earth International and Director of Environmental Rights Action: