Pollution: CAPPA Talks Tough, Says No Hiding Place For Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Agip, Others

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Time appears to be running out on the big polluters of Nigeria’s extractive industry. A growing radical advocacy and campaign organisation, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) says there is no hiding place again for them.

Apparently burdened by the horrifying ‘’ecocide’’ in the Niger Delta, a vastly oil-polluted region of Nigeria, the group is pushing for the big polluters like the Anglo-Dutch oil and gas major, Shell, American oil giants, Chevron and ExxonMobil as well as the Italian Agip, to pay for their years of destroying the environment and warming up the climate.

Zeroing in on the framework of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNCCC), CAPPA is working locally and with global networks to promote mechanisms to make the big polluters pay for their years of environmental terrorism.

This Convention has been ratified by a broad cross-section of both developed and developing countries, including the United States. Its goal is to “prevent dangerous human interference in the climate system.” Achieving this goal is controversial despite the broad international consensus behind the convention.

The Kyoto Protocol is the first set of international rules designed to implement the UNCCC. Kyoto is the name of the Japanese city in which the protocol was negotiated, but it is now commonly used in climate change discussions to refer to the protocol itself.

The Kyoto Protocol entered into force following ratification by Russia in February 2005. The US has refused to ratify Kyoto, leaving the largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs) outside of the protocol designed to contain the problem.

The Convention recognises the importance of biological systems in assessing when climate change must be stopped. The convention benchmark of “dangerous interference” is measured against three arenas of impact—sustainable development, agricultural productivity, and ecosystem response.

It states that climate change should be arrested in a time frame that allows ecosystems to “adapt naturally” to climate change, does not impede sustainable development, and maintains agricultural productivity.

However, CAPPA’s work on climate change seeks to build solidarity with citizens across Africa, to build capacity for resilience to prevent and slow down further global warming; mitigate the impact of climate change; and positively adapt to climate change.

Philip Jakpor, CAPPA’s Programmes Director, explains that climate change is the long term, near-permanent changes that take place in the climate due to activities that lead to the release of greenhouse gases, the reduction of the ozone layer and leads essentially to significant temperature rises and global warming.

‘’Climate change, caused largely by the activities of human beings, is already a reality in Africa, as it is all over the world. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found that Africa is among the most vulnerable continents to climate change, even though the continent contributes the least to the process’’, he says.

The vulnerability of the continent to climate change is, however, driven by a range of factors that includes weak adaptive capacity, high dependence on ecosystem goods for livelihoods, and less developed agricultural production systems.

While these may vary from country to country, CAPPA says the risks of climate change impact on agricultural production, food security, water resources and ecosystem services will likely have increasingly severe consequences on lives and sustainable development in Africa.

For the group’s spokesman, ‘’ managing this risk requires integration of mitigation and adaptation strategies in the general overall human and national development policies, as well as in the management of ecosystem goods and services, and the agriculture production systems in Africa.

‘’Over the coming decades, warming from climate change is expected across almost all the earth’s surface, and global mean rainfall will increase. Consistent with this, observed surface temperatures have generally increased over Africa since the late 19th century to the early 21st century by about 1 °C, but locally as much as 3 °C for minimum temperature in the Sahel at the end of the dry season.’’

Observed precipitation trends indicate spatial and temporal discrepancies as expected. Thus, the observed changes in temperature and precipitation vary regionally.

Sectoral impacts of climate change will include impacts on agriculture; fisheries; food security and water; forestry; health; the economy; and energy sectors.

Other types of impact categories will include: demographic; as well as security. For instance, across Africa, the impact of climate change on precipitation, leading to drought and drying up of rivers and lakes, is already leading to loss of livelihoods, massive displacement of communities, food insecurity, and growing tensions between communities that have become drivers of intractable conflicts between communities practising different livelihoods types that are dependent of land and water.

CAPPA is taking the position that the continent and its peoples have been the victims of unsustainable corporate business practices that have decimated the environment and are driving climate change.

‘’Weak governance capacity, with respect to leadership, institutions, policies, legislative and regulatory frameworks, have combined to make Africa unable to stand up to corporate power and the bullying activities of more powerful states and governments in the hemispheric north.

‘’It is this situation that has led to the context where though Africa is the least contributor to global warming, it is the continent with the greatest vulnerability to climate change impact’’, Jakpor says.

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