Now is the time to stand up and be heard

Ordinary citizens need to make themselves heard to force the world to commit to a binding climate change treaty at the end of the year, according to Valli Moosa, the former environment minister-turned-businessman and ANC national executive member. ‘It can be done,” he said this week. ‘But future generations will suffer now if today’s governments at the end of the year do not make the right decisions.”

Moosa was speaking at the launch of environmental group World Wide Fund for Nature’s South African climate change champions on Tuesday. Apart from Moosa, Nedbank CEO Tom Boardman, businessman and ANC politician Cyril Ramaphosa and influential academic Dr Mamphela Ramphele will also be acting as WWF’s climate champions.

WWF CEO Morne du Plessis said the champions were chosen for their passion for the environment, but also because their high profile would ensure they would be able to assert influence at the highest level.

All the champions spoke about how important the Copenhagen negotiations — to establish a longterm treaty on how nations will cap their emissions — would be.

‘We are at the cusp of a very important moment in history. Every inch of effort is required to ensure that Copenhagen is a success, that we leave a legacy whereby the next generation can say that this generation acted responsibly,” said Moosa. He said if a treaty was not reached in Copenhagen, the planet’s future would be in jeopardy.

Boardman focused on the role African rainforests will play in the fight against climate change, explaining how they became carbon sinks. He said in the past 50 years half of the world’s forests had been destroyed. ‘That is essentially cutting out half of the earth’s lungs,” he said.

He said rainforests should be recognised as a valuable resource and that countries possessing forests must be rewarded and compensated for taking care of them.

Ramphele said: ‘It is very important for leaders of both the developed and the developing world to come together and work for a sustainable future in the interests of all people, particularly the poorest among us.”

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