Stories written by Kristin Palitza
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AFRICA: Miracle Tree is Like a Supermarket

When a food crisis hits the continent, African countries tend to look to the international donor community to mobilise aid. But a fast-growing, drought- resistant tree with extremely nutritious leaves could help poor, arid nations to fight food insecurity and malnutrition on their own.

WWF climate scientist Regina Guenther. Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

Q&A: “By 2020 it Will be Too Late”

Despite the high risk, it remains difficult to convince politicians to take immediate action to prevent further climate change and make available the necessary funds to do so. Scientists have warned repeatedly of the effects of climate change - if governments do not act fast, they will cause an irreversible catastrophe.

Almost nobody believes that a second, comprehensive commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is still possible. Credit: Zukiswa Zimela/IPS

Kyoto Protocol – Hopes for Tangible Results Remain Slim

The last hours of the 17th United Nations climate change summit in Durban have begun. Since the arrival of almost 150 ministers and heads of state on Tuesday, negotiations have moved to the political level. They are expected to debate the way forward until late Friday night, or even Saturday morning.

U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said there is a pool of possible financing options for the Green Climate Fund. Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

Carbon Pricing to Save Green Climate Fund

Carbon pricing will be the core mechanism to finance the Green Climate Fund and with it climate change adaptation projects in developing countries.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres (l) and COP 17 President Maite Mkoana- Mashabane (r) spoke at the opening of the high-level talks.  Credit: Zukiswa Zimela/IPS

CLIMATE CHANGE: Comprehensive Agreement Beyond Reach

The goal of a comprehensive and binding agreement may be beyond the reach of the 17th United Nations climate change negotiations, says the organisation's secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.

Electric cars reduce urban air pollution.  Credit: Tinus de Jager/IPS

Sweden, UK and Germany Top Climate Protectors

Sweden, the United Kingdom and Germany are the top countries to fight climate change, according to the 2012 Climate Change Performance Index, whose results were published at the United Nations climate change summit today.

Solar geysers are just one requirement for "green" accommodation.  Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

South Africa Moves Towards Low Carbon Footprint Travel

Counting on responsible travellers who increasingly seek environmentally friendly alternatives for their holidays, South Africa's tourism sector wants to conserve its biggest asset – nature – while fighting climate change at the same time.

Emerging economies face developmental challenges but are also significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.  Credit: Zukiswa Zimela/IPS

TRADE: Small Steps towards Emission Reduction Deal

Emerging economies China, South Africa and Brazil have indicated their openness to legally-binding carbon emission reduction targets from 2020 during the United Nations climate change summit in Durban, South Africa.

CLIMATE CHANGE: Marching for 100 Percent Change

Chanting loudly, thousands of demonstrators marched through the streets to the venue of the 17th United Nations Climate Change Conference to demand that their voices be heard for "immediate and drastic" carbon emission reductions to save the planet.

Kyoto Protocol and Climate Fund on Shaky Ground

Just a few days into the United Nations climate change negotiations, deep divides on the conference’s key issues have arisen. Serious doubts about the adoption of the Green Climate Fund have cropped up, while a second period of the Kyoto- Protocol looks more and more unlikely.

Observing Deforestation from Space

Global climate change can now be observed from space. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) launched a new technology that can survey the world’s forests via satellites and provide a more accurate, global picture of common threats to the environment, such as deforestation, degradation or illegal logging.

Forest-Dependent Communities Lobby for End of REDD+

Organisations working with indigenous peoples living in forests say the United Nations programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD+) is just another way for big corporates to reap huge profits.

CLIMATE CHANGE: Making a Hot Cup of Rooibos Tea Unaffordable

South Africa’s Rooibos tea has become a popular drink all around the globe. But prices of the herbal brew could shoot up within the next decade, as the Rooibos plant can only grow in one small region in the world – which is severely affected by climate change.

Drastic Child Poverty Might Destroy Lesotho’s Future

Flagging economic fortunes and a persistent AIDS pandemic have devastated Lesotho, leaving little hope it will ever be able to pull itself out of its bleak poverty trap. Three out of five of the tiny southern African kingdom’s children are living in dismal poverty. Every fourth child is orphaned.

AFRICA: Wanted: Greener Cities

In Africa, where urbanisation will be one of the major developments over the next few decades, it will be key for cities to figure out how to handle rapid urban expansion and much-needed economic growth, while creating more environmentally-friendly cities and reducing their carbon footprint at the same time.

Patented drugs limit patients access to public health care.  Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

SOUTH AFRICA: No Political Will to Support Generic Medication

South African health experts are calling on governments to use legally available mechanisms to promote the production or import of generic drugs in their countries.

Sub-Saharan Africa has large potential for hydropower generation, but is yet to exploit it.  Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

World’s Biggest Hydropower Scheme Will Leave Africans in the Dark

South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo have signed an agreement to build a major hydroelectric power project, which is said to bring electricity to more than half of the continent’s 900 million people. But economic analysts warn that foreign investors will prevent the grid from benefiting the general public.

A cornerstone of Africa

Africa’s Free Trade Zone: A Pie in the Sky?

African heads of state have ambitious plans to create a free trade zone, encompassing 26 countries and more than 600 million people on the continent. But economic experts warn the project is a bold step that comes with a plethora of legal, administrative and political hurdles. Others suggest the plan might be a pie in the sky.

Former child solider Mulume* (far left) feels hopeless about his future.  Credit:  Einberger/argum/EED/IPS

DR CONGO: Rehabilitating Former Child Soldiers Who “Liked” Killing

Murhula’s* life changed forever when he was nine years old. It was the year that he learned to kill, torture and rape.

Workers at Shinning Century Ltd in Maseru fear for their jobs. Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

LESOTHO: Government to Turn its Back on Textile Industry

Lesotho’s textile sector – the country’s largest employer - is regarded by many as the only way out of the poverty trap in a tiny kingdom where more than half of the population lives on less than 1.25 dollars a day. But what many do not know is that the government and the World Bank have unofficially turned their backs on the sector and will soon cut important subsidies.

The village of rape survivor Angeline Mwarusena continues to be threatened by militia.  Credit: Einberger/argum/EED/IPS

DR CONGO: No End to Mass Rapes: “It’s a Miserable Life”

Angeline Mwarusena, 61, sits on a small wooden bench in front of her hut, head bent, shoulders slumped. Her voice is barely audible. Four years ago, three soldiers from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) entered her home, hit her and raped her repeatedly. One after the other.

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