Life Compromised for Coal: Mozambique & the Importance of the IPCC report

Yesterday, JA celebrated the opening of our photo exhibition called “O Amanhã Comprometido: A Vida Por Carvão” which translates to ‘Tomorrow Jeopardized: Life for Coal’. This exhibition will run in the Associação Moçambicana de Fotografia in Maputo for a week until 1 October 2013. The exhibition features photos by Daniel Ribeiro, Mauro Pinto and Peter Steudtner.

(See the exhibition poster below)

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This hard-hitting photo exhibition comes as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will release tomorrow yet another report about the dismal state of our atmosphere. The IPCC was constituted by the United Nations to study in depth the scientific, technical and socio-economic aspects of climate change. They release their assessment reports every 5 years; this week world leaders are meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, to release the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of Working Group 1 of the IPCC. Other chapters of AR5 will be released at different times next year, and we will keep you all posted about it.

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(Photo of the IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri by Marshall Niles)

Due to of the very technical nature of the process and the scientists involved, the AR5 report is likely to be conservative in its conclusions. But still, the verdict from the report is so clear. Parts of the report have been leaked beforehand. The report will conclude that climate change is definitely happening and it is driven by increased emissions from humans. The report will stress that each of the last three decades have been warmer than all of the preceding decades going back to 1850 and the decade from 2000-2010 has been the warmest. The report will conclude that an average temperature increase of 4 degrees Celsius is “as likely as not likely” by 2100. But this is just talking about global averages. The report is quite confident that the temperature increases over big land masses, including Africa and Asia, will be higher than the averages! Not just this, but the impacts faced by people will be worse that they originally predicted.

Already Mozambique is seeing elevated temperatures and huge variability in rainfall and river flows. In January 2013, over 150,000 people in Gaza district of Mozambique were temporarily forced out of their homes because of devastating floods. JA travelled to Chokwe to meet with communities and wrote about this in our February newsletter in Portuguese, available here: http://justicaambiental.org/index.php/en/resources/newsletter/2013

So what is the world doing about these dangerous scenarios? Dangerously little! The biggest and best way to reduce emissions today is to reduce the use of fossil fuels right now. Yet the world continues mining coal, drilling oil, fracking; all driving us closer to catastrophic climate change.

But what is worse, in spite of overwhelming scientific evidence of human caused climate change due to emissions, the Northern governments and big business find all possible ways to develop and push false solutions such as carbon trading, CDM, REDD, offsets, geo-engineering, etc., instead of reducing emissions.

Actually these constantly emerging and totally flawed false solutions are not a mistake but are very intentional; they are meant to give a free pass to polluters to carry on polluting. We are now heading towards the 19th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) and in 19 years of trying to stop climate crisis, emissions have only gone up and false solutions are threatening more lives and livelihoods than ever before.

Of course, Mozambique has historically had a very small contribution to climate emissions. However, today Mozambique is aiming to be a major coal exporter, which is affecting communities locally and will put more carbon in the atmosphere than the world can bear. At this IPCC report’s release, we strongly say: Leave the coal in the hole! In Mozambique and everywhere in the world.

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