Stories from around the world will bring home the reality of the emergency

 

 

NEWS ANALYSIS

Last week saw the biggest climate protests in history. Hundreds of thousands of people around the globe demanded that their leaders do more to deal with the climate crisis. On Monday, the United Nations held a special climate summit, where world leaders were asked to present much more ambitious plans to lower carbon emissions and help those already affected by the changing climate.

On the same day, the UN released a report — United in Science — that pulled together all the research that has been done about climate in recent years.

It doesn’t make for happy reading. Essentially, if every country does what it had promised to do to lower carbon emissions — promises contained in Nationally Determined Contributions to achieve the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement — the world will still heat by up to 3.4°C this century.

That’s more than double what scientists say is survivable.

It will cause intense droughts and floods, which will make farming nearly impossible. It will result in thousands of other collapses in the ecosystems that support and sustain human life.


Countries tend not to do what they have promised to do.

To avoid that warming, the report says countries need to triple their ambitions, hugely increasing what they have promised to do. That would translate to a drop of global carbon emissions by 45% by 2030, and to net zero by 2050.

South Africa is far off this target. Climate Action Tracker —a group that collates what every country in the world is doing about the climate crisis — says that if all countries acted the same way that South Africa is, then the world will warm by up to 4°C.

This scenario could be very different. Eskom’s coal-fired power plants are responsible for almost half of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. These are being phased out but the process is slow because the government did not commit to an ambitious renewable energy build.

So the old power plants will still be releasing carbon in the 2030s.

Much of the blame for this is on the leadership of deposed president Jacob Zuma, who blocked anything that was not nuclear energy.

There has also been a failure to communicate the climate crisis. Last week, just a few hundred people marched in Johannesburg in the global climate strikes — and maybe a thousand marched in Cape Town. Afrobarometer research shows that 59% of people in South Africa do not know what climate change is.

The scale of the climate crisis — and its seemingly slow pace at which it unfolds — makes this a difficult story for journalists to write about.

To better cover the climate crisis, over the next few pages — and in the coming months — the Mail & Guardian will publish stories about the climate crisis from around the world.

This is journalism that comes from Covering Climate Now, a network of more than 300 publications that are committed to covering the climate crisis.

This includes publications such as The Guardian in the United Kingdom, Hindustan Times in India, Mother Jones in the United States and Al Jazeera in Qatar. Put together, these outlets have an audience of more than a billion people.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Sipho Kings
Sipho Kings is the acting editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

Q&A Sessions: George Euvrard, the brains behind our cryptic crossword

George Euvrard spoke to Athandiwe Saba about his passion for education, clues on how to solve his crosswords and the importance of celebrating South Africa.

Poachers in prisons tell their stories

Interviews with offenders provide insight into the structure of illegal wildlife trade networks

More top stories

No one should be as rich as Elon Musk

The reactions to Elon Musk’s billionaire status are evidence that far too many South Africans have not fully grasped the destructive consequences of inequality. Entrepreneur...

Department of basic education edges closer to releasing matric results

The basic education department has said that it is almost done with the marking process and that the capturing of marks is in progress.

The rare fairytale of Percy Tau

Through much hard work and a bit of good fortune, the South African attacker has converted a potential horror story into magic

Somali troops may have been drawn into Ethiopia’s civil war

The Mail & Guardian spoke to Somalis about their relatives who disappeared after signing up for military training and fear they may have been killed
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…