Eskom says global universal power access project taking shape

Engineering News 13 July, 2012.

South African power utility Eskom says it is working with a range of global utilities on a plan to address prevailing high levels of energy poverty, which excludes one in five people from access to modern energy systems – about 40% of those individuals live in sub-Saharan Africa.

In fact, the International Energy Agency estimates that 1.3-billion people lack electricity to light their homes or conduct business, while twice that number still rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste to cook their food.

The plan to improve access is being driven by United Nations (UN) secretary general Ban Ki-moon, who has already declared 2012 ‘The International Year of Sustainable Electricity for All’…


Carbon emission targets lack ambition – Basic Ministers

Engineering News 13 July 2102.

Ministers from the Brazil, South Africa, India and China (Basic) grouping raised concerns on Friday over the lack of ambition shown by industrialised countries party to the Kyoto Protocol through the quantified emission limitation or reduction objectives (QELROs)…

Brazil External Relations Vice Minister of Environment, Energy, Science and TechnologyLuis Alberto Figueiredo Machado said the QELROs outlined were “far below” what is required by science and their commitment to reduce their emissions by at least 25% to 40% of 1990 levels by 2020…

Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs to host media briefing on Rio +20 Conference on Sustainable Development

SA Government Information 29 June 2012.

(Sorry about the late posting – this one wasn’t published by Friday afternoon).

Ms Edna Molewa, the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs will host a media briefing to provide feedback on the recent Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.The briefing will be held in Pretoria on Monday, 2 July 2012.


South Africa recently took part in the Rio +20 conference held in Rio de Janeiro Brazil from 20 – 22 June 2012.The event marked the tenth anniversary ofthe 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), which was referred to as the Johannesburg Summit, as well as the twentieth anniversary of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit.The conference aimed to renew political commitment to global sustainable development and took place under the theme “Green Economy for Sustainable Development – The Future We want.”


The media briefing will provide a platform for the Minister to give feedback on the outcomes of the conference.It will also be an opportunity for the Minister and the negotiation team to engage with the media on other thematic issues addressed at the conference.


The RIO +20 media briefing will be held directly after ICTS Cluster briefing at GCIS.


The details of the briefing are as follows:


Date: Monday, 2 July 2012
Venue: GCIS, Midtown Building, cnr Sisulu and Madiba Streets, Pretoria (old street names:Prinsloo and Vermeulen).
Time: Immediately after the ICTS cluster media briefing which is scheduled for 10:00


To RSVP contact:


Xolani Ngqoshela at 012 395 3078 or


Sithokozile Banele Mabenaat 012 395 1607 or


For media queries contact:


Albi Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871

Issued by: Department of Environmental Affairs
29 Jun 2012

End of an Era – Rio +20

George Monbiot, The Guardian 25 June 2012.

So now what do we do to defend life on Earth?


By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 25th June 2012

It is, perhaps, the greatest failure of collective leadership since the first world war. The Earth’s living systems are collapsing, and the leaders of some of the most powerful nations – the US, the UK, Germany, Russia – could not even be bothered to turn up and discuss it. Those who did attend the Earth summit last week solemnly agreed to keep stoking the destructive fires: sixteen times in their text they pledged to pursue “sustained growth”, the primary cause of the biosphere’s losses(1)…

World leaders pledge $513bn to sustainable development

Engineering News 25 June 2012.

At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), some $513 billion in funding has been committed by governments, the private sector, civil society and other groups to achieve a sustainable future…

Rio +20 – the full text

Peter Atkins 25 June 2012.

Here is the full Rio + 20 text:


(Editorial note: You will notice, if you wade through the 49 pages and 283 paragraphs, that the text is peppered with phrases such as “we encourage”, “we invite”, “we invite”, but very few concrete commitments apart from setting up a “registry of commitments”, voluntary of course.
Paragraph 255 says “We agree to establish an intergovernmental process under the United Nations General Assembly”> This process will “assess financing needs, consider the effectiveness, consistency and synergies of existing instruments and frameworks, and evaluate additional initiatives, with a view to prepare a report proposing options on an effective Sustainable Development Financing Strategy to facilitate the mobilization of resources and their effective use in achieving sustainable development objectives.”
Paragraph 258 does set some targets on Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) in terms of GDP % contributions which range from 0.15% to 0.7%, but ODA is voluntary anyway.

Paragraph 225, about fossil fuel subsidies, says “Countries reaffirm the commitments they have made to phase out harmful and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption and undermine sustainable development.” It also invites others to consider making similar commitments. The problem is that so far countries are only talking about removing fossil fuel subsidies – as far as I know no one has actually dared to remove fossil fuel subsidies.
All in all, I think Rio +20 was disappointing and our best hope lies in the actions of individuals – people, companies, NGOs and perhaps some enlightened countries.)


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Progress on the Sidelines as Rio Conference Ends

New York Times 23 June 2012.

RIO DE JANEIRO — Burdened by low expectations, snarled by endless traffic congestion and shunned by President Obama, theUnited Nations Conference on Sustainable Development ended here as it began, under a shroud of withering criticism…

…The sheer size of the gathering — nearly 50,000 participants including more than 100 heads of state or government — may have raised expectations, in spite of the mixed record of previous such gatherings. The first Rio summit meeting produced two landmark treaties, on climate change and biodiversity, that have so far failed to live up to their promises.

Yet despite this record, the activity outside the main negotiating sessions here produced hundreds of side agreements that do not require ratification or direct financing by governments and that offer the promise of incremental but real progress.

“Even a complicated, diverse world can address problems not through treaties, but by identifying the goals that then inspire decentralized actions,” said Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

For instance, Microsoft said it would roll out an internal carbon fee on its operations in more than 100 countries, part of a plan to go carbon-neutral by 2030. The Italian oil giant Eni said it would reduce its flaring of natural gas. Femsa, a Latin American soft-drink bottler, said it would obtain 85 percent of its energy needs in Mexico from renewable sources.

(Editorial note: Perhaps the only way forward is for individuals and individual businesses and individual countries to act according to their individual consciences and do what they have to do. It appears to be a complete waste of time waiting for our politicians to do anything meaningful.)