Thursday, November 24, 2011

Welcome to Durban (excerpt from new book, 'Durban’s Climate Gamble')

Nov. 24, 2011

The following is an excerpt from a new book, Durban’s Climate Gamble: Playing the Carbon Markets, Betting the Earth, launched on November 23, 2011, ahead of the November 28–December 9 COP17 climate change talks by UNISA Press.

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By Patrick Bond, Durban

Durban’s Climate Gamble is devoted to exploring two interlocking, overlapping scales of political ecology: local eco-social conditions and environmental justice campaigning in Durban, South Africa and climate justice advocacy against market-based “false solutions” at the global scale. Their fusion at the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) links up myriad battles over ecosystems that mainly revolve around “neoliberalised nature”.

For example, the pricing of socio-ecological services has been extreme when applied to carbon sequestration and Durban is a leading site. More generally, the tendency to commodify nature has become the defining philosophical stance behind global environmental governance, with inevitable conflicts of which Durban’s are emblematic. For example, “cost-reflective” (unsubsidised) pricing of South African electricity at a time of increased coal-fired power plant construction has generated an intense battle over access to energy in Durban’s informal settlements where illegal connections are rife.

The struggle over the price of water and sanitation has led to South Africa’s famous water wars. The “green economy” (often interpreted as multinational corporate promotion of biofuels and geoengineering) and “Payment for Environmental Services” are set to become conventional wisdom at the Rio+20 summit in mid-2012, but not to ensure that the North’s ecological debt to the South is properly acknowledged, but rather to establish a range of financialised investment options that securitise “natural capital”.

Read more HERE.

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