A World Against Waste
Next month\'s Earth Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, will be presented with a 2 million-strong petition demanding renewable energy for the world\'s poorest 2 billion people.
It\'s an imposing number of signatures, though not improbable in this age of spam (that is, targeted e-mails to close friends who believe in the cause of helping humanity). But what makes this petition for the Earth Summit different from most cause-driven drives is that so far, only about 7,000 of the 1 million signatures collected have come from the Internet.
\"We\'re not promoting the Web petition particularly. We\'re mainly gathering signatures through our shops and Greenpeace campaigns worldwide,\" said a spokesman for The Body Shop, one of the sponsors of the petition.
That\'s because the nations promoted by the petition have no access to electricity on a wide scale, and current power supplies come from unreliable, dangerous or climate-damaging sources, or all three.
\"The use of oil, coal and gas fuels are quite literally choking our world to death. It seems madness to keep using polluting fossil fuels when clean green alternatives are available,\" said The Body Shop\'s co-chairman, Gordon Roddick.
\"We have a moral obligation to achieve sustainable energy not just for ourselves, but particularly for those people in the developing world, who are currently off-grid.\"
Like a hardcore smoker, however, world governments, knowing fossil fuels are a bad thing, keep puffing away anyway.
\"Ministers talk a good game on renewables, but the reality is that (the U.K.) government has been central in promoting dirty energy in the developing world,\" said Stephen Tindale of Greenpeace, co-sponsor of the petition.
A boost to the Choose Positive Energy campaign came from an unlikely source early this year, with the former boss of oil giant Shell calling for a coordinated, fossil-fuel-free response to climate change and energy production.
\"Climate change and global poverty demands that we massively expand renewable energy worldwide,\" said Sir Mark Moody.
\"Governments from northern countries need to expand renewable energy targets, removing inappropriate subsidies.... This will allow southern nations to develop and grow using clean energy, leapfrogging the North to more modern technologies.\"
Those technologies include neato knick-knacks like energy-efficient stoves, solar lanterns, solar home systems, micro hydroelectricity generators, small wind turbines, wave energy and biogas.
Biogas harnesses the methane and other flammable gases that develop in organic trash, creating both fuel and fertilizer. It is a burgeoning field that offers hope for countries suffering from landfill overload.
Many of these systems are already viable and widely used in the developing world. Developing countries have installed over 1 million solar home systems. There are about 150,000 in Kenya, more than 100,000 in China, 85,000 in Zimbabwe, 60,000 in Indonesia and 40,000 in Mexico.
Meanwhile, over 45,000 small-scale hydro schemes are being used in China, providing power to over 50 million people, and over 50,000 small wind turbines provide electricity in remote rural areas around the world.
Now Greenpeace and The Body Shop want world governments to throw their commitment and cash, to the tune of $250 billion over the next 10 years, into the Choose Positive Energy project.
Without this commitment, however, the outlook is grim, said Tindale. \"Burning fossil fuels in Africa or Asia is just as dangerous to us as burning them in Britain; exporting dirty technology won\'t protect us from the consequences of climate change.\"
We can try to run from pollution, but we can\'t hide. Climate change has made the whole world our backyard.
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