In what might be described as a happy coincidence, or synchronicity, a meeting between a South African delegation member and a United Nations Senior Climate Change Co-ordinator took place in Bavaria, Germany this week.
The German NGO InWent – Capacity building International hosted delegates from South Africa and Indonesia this week, ending on Friday, 15th, as the kickoff workshop on their year long Climate Leadership programme. Held at their headquarters in Feldafing, this process brought together some 40 delegates from both countries, comprising Government, Civil society and business.
The keynote speaker was Climate Change Coordinator Kaveh Zahedi, from the United Nations Environment Program’s division of Technology, Industry and Economics, on his way back from the critical climate talks at Tianjin in China last week.
In a serendipitous moment, a South African civil society delegate, Muna Lakhani (pictured) from the Institute for Zero Waste in Africa (IZWA), met with Zahedi, and engaged him on the notion that the currently broadly accepted pie chart of greenhouse gas emissions (see below) presented only one world view, and was actually a less than helpful one.
Upon interrogation, Lakhani shared examples like the Worldwatch Institute report from 2009, confirming that 51% of global greenhouse gases come from livestock production, and in the process, consuming 50% of all crops grown and fish caught, while being responsible for 70% of deforestation. Similarly, in reports by both the Product Policy Institute and the USA’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), confirmed that about 40% of US greenhouse gas emissions stem from products and processes, giving one a different view of causes of climate change.
An inclusive attitude
‘It is all very well to know that energy, agriculture, transport and so on have a Climate impact, but no one is interrogating what that energy, agriculture or transport is actually being used for. Without this level of analysis, strategic interventions most likely to produce the fastest results, urgently needed to combat Climate Change, cannot surface,’ said Lakhani, speaking from Feldafing. He also brought up the notion that ‘exports’ of emissions, for example, production in China and India consumed by the West, should also be urgently be included in the ‘carbon footprint’ of nations globally.
Zahedi promised to integrate the suggestions into the work done to date. While he was concerned that the current pie chart should not be scrapped, this changed when he was assured that the recommendations should be in addition to current knowledge, and not be replacing them.
This level of intervention is critical, and will be followed up in the Cancun climate meeting soon, and lobbied for at the climate meeting scheduled for South Africa next year.