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The guardians of the Earth are gathering in Cape Town


The guardians of the Earth are gathering in Cape Town

There could be no better locale for a climate change conference than one of the cities most affected by it

Senior science reporter

Diabolical droughts, freak storms, flash floods, massive fires, tidal waves that take out a city ...
These used to be the stuff of nightmares and Hollywood blockbusters.
But, when a new film called Guardians of the Earth shows harrowing footage of many such disasters striking with little time between them over the past few years, they’re as real as real can be.
And the problem underneath all this – human-induced climate change – is one which former US president Barack Obama said “we cannot leave to future generations” to fix.
From Monday, South Africa will take on the global mantle for four days as the biggest gathering of climate change experts, scientists, lobby groups, business leaders, policymakers and more begins at the Cape Town International Convention Centre for Adaptation Futures 2018.
The conference is considered the main climate change gathering across the world and takes place every two years.
This is the fifth edition, and the main theme is “dialogues for solutions”.Ryan Fortune, a media liaison for the event, said: “This is the first time the conference is being held on the African continent and we aim to use this setting to foreground developing country adaptation issues, and increase participation by the developing world and Africa.”
Over 1,200 delegates and more than 230 organisations from 87 countries have registered, and the programme includes exhibitions, workshops, plenary sessions, smaller group sessions and networking events.
University of Cape Town professor Mark New, who heads the African Climate and Development Initiative which is co-hosting the event, said: “Perhaps more than any of last year’s hurricanes in the US or wildfires in Europe, it is Cape Town’s water crisis that has raised the profile of climate change adaptation.”
He said the drought had brought home the fact that, “despite what a few politicians and fossil fuel companies would have us believe, climate change affects all of us, so instead of burying our collective heads in the sand, we need to collaborate across all social and geographic boundaries, and deal with it through the lens of our best scientific and social knowledge”.Those at the conference will also have a chance to see Guardians of the Earth which stands as a stark reminder of why a conference like this is so vital.
Directed by Filip Malinkowski, the film tracks the journey of the Paris Agreement of 2015, considered by many to be the “last-ditch attempt to save our planet”.
It also reveals the 21 years of failed negotiations that preceded it, and the gargantuan effort it took to get 20,000 negotiators from 195 nations to meet in Paris at an airport (under military guard) to agree on a way forward.
It also explores the ways in which wealthier nations profit so handsomely from fossil fuels, and how this has often stripped them of any interest in trying to stop us in our destructive tracks.
The conference runs from Monday 18 June to Thursday 21 June.

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