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The Energy [R]evolution Gets Going!

New report finds that global renewable energy growth is outpacing coal and nuclear

A new Greenpeace report on the state of the global power plant market shows that since the 1990s, installations of wind and solar grew faster than any other power plant technology.

This latest report comes in the wake of Greenpeace Africa’s recently published Advanced Energy [R]evolution Scenario, which shows that investments in the renewable energy sector could create 150,000 new jobs in South Africa over the next 20 years.

It is now up to the South Africa government to seize the moment; with the political will and South Africa’s abundance of renewable energy resources, the country could realistically become the renewable energy leader in Africa.

The Greenpeace report, The Silent Energy Revolution: 20 Years in the Making, also highlights how renewable energy power plants accounted for more than a quarter (26%) of all new power plants added to the worldwide electricity grid over the past decade, compared to nuclear power stations representing just 2% of new installations in the same period.

With renewable energy now the world’s fastest growing source of power plant installations, governments can make a simple, clear choice,” said Greenpeace International Senior Renewable Energy Expert Sven Teske.

They can commit to a future shackled to dirty and dangerous fossil fuels, or they can kick start an energy revolution by implementing renewable energy laws across the globe, and leading investment in a renewable energy future that will not only boost global economic development and create green jobs, but will also play a key role in mitigating climate change”.

South Africa can source half of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030, rising to 94% by 2050 — this according to the Advanced Energy [R]evolution scenario. This is more than double what the South African government is aiming for in the Policy Adjusted Integrated Resource Plan.

In recent months, South Africa confirmed its addiction to coal and nuclear with the release of the IRP2010, which includes two new coal fired power stations and six new nuclear power stations. The IRP2010 sits in stark contrast to the government’s new growth path that will create ‘green’ jobs through a green economy and climate friendly initiatives, utilizing the huge potential of the renewable energy market in South Africa.

The clear trend away from coal and nuclear power plants towards renewable power plants is a massive step in the right direction,” said Teske.

According to Ferrial Adam, climate campaigner for Greenpeace Africa: “As the host of the international climate negotiations COP 17 in Durban at the end of this year, the South African government must make the right choices domestically to create a better and cleaner future for all.

There is no technological barrier to achieving a clean and sustainable energy pathway utilising renewable energies. Investing in people, rather than dirty and dangerous energy will not only boost South Africa’s economic development, but also stem catastrophic climate change,” concluded Adam.

Interview: The audacity of Alice Walker…

By Jesse Rosenfeld ..

ATHENS — I first meet Pulitzer Prize winning author and civil rights activist Alice Walker in the Athens port while touring the American boat participating in the flotilla preparing to set sail for Gaza.

Along with the other U.S. activists, she is training and preparing for the voyage. Sitting stoically on the deck under a canopy of an American flag with The Audacity of Hope, the ships name written across the bottom, Walker’s description of the flotilla as, “the freedom ride of this generation,” comes to life.

She’s referring to the young Americans who put their bodies on the line to challenge Jim Crow segregation. Standing next to her, shaded by the star spangled awning, the moment strikes me as simultaneously ironic and abundantly optimistic.

Two days later we sit down for an interview in a hotel lounge in Athens, under a poster of Buster Keaton falling into an open sewer hole. A bandana tied around her head, Walker, the author of The Color Purple and a number of other novels and story collections, tells me about her recent trip to Ramallah and Bethlehem for the Ted X conference.

It was so good to laugh and feel this wonderful spirit,’’ she says about a talk by Palestinian author Suad Amiry who discussed being trapped with her mother-in-law in a Ramallah apartment for forty days of an Israeli military curfew (the theme of Amiry’s book Sharon and My Mother-in-Law). 

In spite of everything, [it was good] to laugh at how silly and ridiculous the situation under occupation is, because the situation is so dire,” she adds.

Walker was part of the Gaza Freedom March in 2009 that attempted to go through Mubarak’s Egypt into Gaza, but her public commitment to speaking out about Palestinian rights dates back the 1982 massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps during Israel’s first invasion of Lebanon. 

I wasn’t so happy with the massacres. That was a marker [for me],” she says in a dry tone. However, for her, going to Gaza after the 2009 invasion was a turning point.

This was incredibly disturbing. It was something that really caused me to want the world to waken to the seriousness [of the situation],” she says.

Reflecting on her years of activism, it is clear that Walker sees a connection between civil rights in America, liberation from apartheid in South Africa and the Palestinian cause.

Without the international community coming to the aid of the South African people they may very well still be under apartheid, and [without the support of progressive white people] we might still be under segregation in the United States.

The comparison doesn’t end there: “settlers are the Klan,” she says definitively, referring to the notorious white supremacist terror organization. “They don’t have their white sheets because I guess they don’t need them.

I mention to her that the leaders of the Palestine’s Arab Spring are discussing a campaign of attempted freedom rides on settler busses in the West Bank.

I’m very pleased to hear that,” she says breaking into a big smile.

She then returns to the freedom ride conversation from the previous day. “I think the tactic on the Palestinian side is to draw attention to the Klanishness. It’s been so difficult for the world to understand who the settlers are and the problem with them taking more and more of the land,” she says, arguing that it’s a modus systemically rooted in the way Israel was founded.

That’s the history of the settlement of Palestine; it started in 1948 and is continuing,” she adds connecting Israel’s creation of 750,000 Palestinian refugees in the founding of the state and current settler evictions of Palestinian families in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Although blunt and unequivocal in her analysis, Walker switches gears, once again displaying her optimism. In a recent article, she details commitments and sacrifices made by white Jewish Americans in the civil rights movement. She says she detailed these to send a message directly to Israelis.

It’s a way to remind them that their Jewishness can stand for something else, it doesn’t have to stand for beating up people, taking their land and destroying their culture,” she says. “[Israeli’s Jewish identity] could actually be about something very fabulous.’’

Jumping between her razor sharp critique and a boundless faith in people’s ability to change, it becomes clear what has made the legendary writer a central figure in artist circles, civil rights and the feminist movement.

I come from a southern tradition of struggle and one of the sayings is that freedom itself is a constant struggle.

Pointing to the poster behind me she adds “it’s like Buster Keaton over there.  You never know when you’re going to fall in a man hole, or when someone is going to push you in. The point is to hold on, don’t give up even when it looks really dire. And for the Palestinians it’s been dire since 1947-48.



A letter from Nelson Mandela to NYT columnist Thomas Friedman


by Arjan El Fassed (Media Monitors Network)

March 30, 2001

To: Thomas L. Friedman (columnist New York Times)
From: Nelson Mandela (former President South Africa)

Dear Thomas,

I know that you and I long for peace in the Middle East, but before you continue to talk about necessary conditions from an Israeli perspective, you need to know what’s on my mind. Where to begin? How about 1964. Let me quote my own words during my trial. They are true today as they were then:

“I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Today the world, black and white, recognise that apartheid has no future. In South Africa it has been ended by our own decisive mass action in order to build peace and security. That mass campaign of defiance and other actions could only culminate in the establishment of democracy.

Perhaps it is strange for you to observe the situation in Palestine or more specifically, the structure of political and cultural relationships between Palestinians and Israelis, as an apartheid system. This is because you incorrectly think that the problem of Palestine began in 1967. This was demonstrated in your recent column “Bush’s First Memo” in the New York Times on March 27, 2001.

You seem to be surprised to hear that there are still problems of 1948 to be solved, the most important component of which is the right to return of Palestinian refugees.

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not just an issue of military occupation and Israel is not a country that was established “normally” and happened to occupy another country in 1967. Palestinians are not struggling for a “state” but for freedom, liberation and equality, just like we were struggling for freedom in South Africa.

In the last few years, and especially during the reign of the Labour Party, Israel showed that it was not even willing to return what it occupied in 1967; that settlements remain, Jerusalem would be under exclusive Israeli sovereignty, and Palestinians would not have an independent state, but would be under Israeli economic domination with Israeli control of borders, land, air, water and sea.

Israel was not thinking of a “state” but of “separation”. The value of separation is measured in terms of the ability of Israel to keep the Jewish state Jewish, and not to have a Palestinian minority that could have the opportunity to become a majority at some time in the future. If this takes place, it would force Israel to either become a secular democratic or bi-national state, or to turn into a state of apartheid not only de facto, but also de jure.

Thomas, if you follow the polls in Israel for the last 30 or 40 years, you clearly find a vulgar racism that includes a third of the population who openly declare themselves to be racist. This racism is of the nature of “I hate Arabs” and “I wish Arabs would be dead”. If you also follow the judicial system in Israel you will see there is discrimination against
Palestinians, and if you further consider the 1967 occupied territories you will find there are already two judicial systems in operation that represent two different approaches to human life: one for Palestinian life and the other for Jewish life. Additionally there are two different approaches to property and to land. Palestinian property is not recognised as private property because it can be confiscated.

As to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, there is an additional factor. The so-called “Palestinian autonomous areas” are bantustans. These are restricted entities within the power structure of the Israeli apartheid system.

The Palestinian state cannot be the by-product of the Jewish state, just in order to keep the Jewish purity of Israel. Israel’s racial discrimination is daily life of most Palestinians. Since Israel is a Jewish state, Israeli Jews are able to accrue special rights which non-Jews cannot do. Palestinian Arabs have no place in a “Jewish” state.

Apartheid is a crime against humanity. Israel has deprived millions of Palestinians of their liberty and property. It has perpetuated a system of gross racial discrimination and inequality. It has systematically incarcerated and tortured thousands of Palestinians, contrary to the rules of international law. It has, in particular, waged a war against a civilian population, in particular children.

The responses made by South Africa to human rights abuses emanating from the removal policies and apartheid policies respectively, shed light on what Israeli society must necessarily go through before one can speak of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and an end to its apartheid policies.

Thomas, I’m not abandoning Mideast diplomacy. But I’m not going to indulge you the way your supporters do. If you want peace and democracy, I will support you. If you want formal apartheid, we will not support you. If you want to support racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing, we will oppose you. When you figure out what you’re about, give me a call. 

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