31 October 2011
The government and civil society have partnered to launch a unique Climate Train” to criss-cross South Africa raising awareness on changing weather patterns ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference starting in Durban on 28 November.
The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) takes place at Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre from 28 November to 9 December.
The train project has been touted by some as one the biggest campaigns in the history of the conference.
The train, set to pass through 17 communities including small towns, rural areas, villages and townships, started its epic journey in Cape Town on Friday night. It is scheduled to reach Durban on 27 November, the day before the start of COP 17.
Some of the areas to be visited by the train include Worcester, Beaufort West, Kimberly, Klerksdorp, Krugersdorp, Polokwane, Louis Trichardt and Ladysmith.
‘Mobilisation, Dialogue and Climate Justice’
Led by South African environmental agency Indalo Yethu, the project is supported by the Department of Environmental Affairs, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa and the Embassy of the Republic of Germany.
Traveling under the banner, “Mobilisation, Dialogue and Climate Justice”, the Climate Train aims to engage ordinary and vulnerable South Africans on their climate change “hopes, aspirations, experiences and solutions”.
According to the organisers, lively meetings with locals will be held on the train and in community town halls. Schools, activists and ordinary people along the way will come to share films, industrial theatre and discussions on climate change.
Other activities planned on the journey include tree planting to offset the carbon footprint of the train, with gardening, music and poetry are also on programme.
Showcasing low-carbon technologies
The train will also be used as a resource hub to showcase low-carbon technologies and present information and learning experiences on climate change mitigation, adaptation and innovation.
Indalo Yethu chief executive June Josephs-Langa said the campaign would keep going even after COP 17.
She said the voices that would be heard along the away would help towards crafting an African People’s Climate Charter.
Josephs-Langa said that because people in small towns were sidelined by mainstream media on climate change awareness, they were not necessarily aware why weather patterns were changing and were trying to adapt.
She added that the technical language used in climate change discussions tended to cut off ordinary people from the conversation.