The world has not stopped changing since time began, and yet miniscule changes in temperature, algae levels in the sea and rainfall, affect us acutely and painfully. This is particularly true of Africa, where natural disasters and climate change hit some of the world’s poorest communities the hardest… and so it seems appropriate that this year’s UN climate talks are taking place in Durban, South Africa. They are being held from 26th November – 3rd December (as this newsletter goes to print), and during this week about 50 events organised by the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition will be linking people up with the major decision-making action in Durban. These include:

– Film screenings across the land, from Sutton Coldfield to Swansea

– Photo exhibitions, bringing us closer to what a drought actually means for communities who work on the land every day and rely on nature directly for survival

– Talks with climate change authors to raise awareness on the big issues

– African food nights all over the country. Ever tried Bobotie?

– Public meetings with MPs, mayors and ministers of state.



This is a wide-ranging initiative known as the African Climate Connection. It involves the different member organisations of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition [Oxfam, CAFOD, FOE, Peace Child International amongst others], and is important for a reason…it gives us all a vital link with the Conference of Parties (COP), where decisions are made on how to tackle climate change. The movement also enables us to put pressure on MPs and other decision makers on issues that matter. Developing countries currently do not have the resources to invest in renewable energy and other important technologies that would enable them to live sustainably and deal with the challenges of a competitive global economy. They lack the funds to face catastrophes such as floods, droughts and hurricanes, which have been increasing as eco-systems buckle under the strain of pollution and human activity. It is absolutely crucial that money is set aside from the coffers of rich countries in order keep social and environmental stability as changes occur. Friends of the Earth are hoping to make this year count and to prevent runaway climate change.

COP17 – the UN talks on climate


Friends of the Earth have been working hard in the run up to COP17 to mitigate the outcome of the last UN climate talks (in Cancun last December), which was a weak and ineffective agreement.

We want an agreement that commits rich countries to:

  • legally binding emissions cuts

  • keep in line with climate science

  • close dangerous carbon offsetting loopholes

  • stop the expansion of carbon markets

  • is fair for developing countries.

We have little time left to avoid catastrophic climate change, which makes campaigning work at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) very important.

The Cancun agreement attempts to move away from legally binding targets that are based on science and fairness.

Instead it moves to a voluntary pledge system that would result in temperature rises of at least 4 degrees, with catastrophic impacts for the planet and people.

The chance for a strong, fair and binding deal in South Africa will be increased if the UK and EU raise their reductions targets and close the loopholes.

And if they stop trying to rip up the existing climate agreements.

Birmingham Friends of the Earth organised a film screening on 24th November as part of The African Climate Connection in a bid to get across just how fragile the environment is, how real the suffering is for the world’s poorest communities as they confront climate change, and how easy it is to get informed and demand justice on these issues. Taking Root: The inspiring story of Wangari Maathai was screened on 24/11/11 at the Trinity Centre, Mill Street, Sutton Coldfield at 7pm, and celebrates this proactive approach. The positive thing is that there is a chance to significantly limit the damage to our planet and there are steps to a more sustainable future. The Kenyan environmental/political activist gives an insight into how this can happen in practice, and on the night itself Birmingham’s communities had an opportunity to challenge Andrew Mitchell, minister for International Development, to use his influence and deliver climate justice. Your personal messages were delivered to him the very next day, which we hope is in keeping with the COP17 motto – Working Together/Saving Tomorrow Today [add logo]. Durban may be a long way away, and initiating change may seem like an uphill struggle, but by connecting with MPs, activists and other grassroots organisations, we can perhaps live up to the wise African proverb: For tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.


Copenhagen COP15 Climate Summit


Copenhagen COP15 Climate Summit


Copenhagen COP15 Climate Summit