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Discussing urgent impacts of climate change

Date Released: Mon, 1 August 2011 10:00 +0200

The South East African Climate Consortium Student Forum (SEACC SF), chaired by MA Philosophy Student Alex Lenferna, is hosting a series of lectures focussing on the United Nations Conference of the Parties 17 (COP 17) starting with Dr Carl Palmer of the Africa Centre for Climate and Earth System Science (ACCESS) speaking on “Climate Change and Earth systems.”

COP 17 takes place from 28 November to 9 December in Durban this year. “This important occasion is seen by environmentalists, scientists, politicians and many more as being more significant than the 2010 World Cup for putting South Africa on the world map,” says Lenferna. “COP 17 is important not only for South Africa, but the negotiations to be held at COP 17 are of critical importance to the future of our planet, in virtue of the imminent expiry of the Kyoto Protocol.”

The Kyoto Protocol is the current international environmental protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties? or COP 17. The Kyoto Protocol expires at the end of 2012.

In partnership with the Environmental Research Centre, SEACC SF feels that “the issues surrounding climate change in general, the importance of a new climate change protocol, the COP 17 discussions, and the impacts of climate change on South Africa, are far from clear in the minds of many” so it is imperative to help all to understand the issues surrounding COP 17.

The lecture series will also explore the various routes that individuals and organisations can follow in order to get involved, such as the civil society and youth sectors, as well as other related initiatives including the Global Day of Action and Sea Pledge campaign. Furthermore, to spread understanding of this crucial point in humanity’s trajectory, SEACC SF encourages schools and the broader Grahamstown community to participate in the lecture series.

Lenferna is also currently finalising petitions for a global campaign to pressure the South African government to respond more convincingly to climate change, to strengthen their bargaining position as the chair of Cop 17. “Although there are many things that individuals can do to curb their contribution to climate change, the most important changes need to come from government and industry and well as civil society need to pressure them into making those changes,” says Lenferna.

Including engaging speakers such as Saliem Fakir of the World Wildlife Fund and Dr Sheona Shackleton of Environmental Science at Rhodes, the lecture series is broken down into five lectures running on Tuesdays at 6.30pm over five weeks, beginning on Tuesday 2 August, (skipping 9 August, which is a public holiday) and ending on Tuesday 6 September.

Email seaccsf@gmail.com for the full programme or visit

Story by Anna-Karien Otto