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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Zimbabwe rocked by corruption as Robert Mugabe's time comes to the end

--> The Zimbabwe Mail In March 2013, voters approved a new constitution to roll back presidential power, but in July, President Robert Mugabe of the Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front was reelected to his seventh five-year term since the consolidation of his ...


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Le Monde.fr - Le Burkina Faso face aux menaces de radicalisation religieuse

Le Monde.fr

Le Burkina Faso face aux menaces de radicalisation religieuse

Depuis l'attentat de Ouagadougou le 15 janvier et la multiplication des attaques au nord du pays, le modèle de tolérance burkinabé est malmené.
| 22.06.2016 à 11:17

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Guatemala 1000s No Food from Drought




Thousands face food crisis in drought-hit Guatemala


Thousands of people in eastern Guatemala are suffering from a prolonged drought that has resulted in a food crisis.
This summer was particularly hard for residents in Jalapa since the first harvest of 2016 was very poor due to the lack of rains at the beginning of the year.
Guatemala representative,World Food Programme,   Mario Touchette  says studies carried out by the WFP show the drought is affecting at least 2.8 million in the region with more than 900,000 who need immediate support because they are at a nutritional risk.

But the WFP, together with the local government are only able to support less than half due to lack of resources.

Indonesia Carbon Emission Highest from Fires Since 1997




Carbon emissions from 2015 fires in Southeast Asia greatest since 1997: New study

fire-drone

MEDIA ADVISORY

Carbon emissions from 2015 fires in Southeast Asia greatest since 1997: New studyy
28 June 2016 – A new study of the forest and peatland fires that burned across maritime Southeast Asia in 2015 has found that the carbon emissions were the largest since 1997, when an even stronger El Niño also resulted in extended drought and widespread burning.
Using a pioneering combination of regional satellite observations, on-the-ground measurements in Kalimantan, Indonesia, and the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) modeling framework, the study's authors determined that the daily carbon emissions released by the fires in September and October 2015 were higher than those of the entire European Union (EU) over the same period.
The study, published in Scientific Reports, was carried out by a team led by Vincent Huijnen of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute and Martin J. Wooster of King's College London and the NERC National Center for Earth Observation, and included Daniel Murdiyarso and David Gaveau from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
Read about the study on Forests News here.  Access the full paper here.
In September and October 2015, dry conditions and the delayed onset of seasonal rains contributed to extensive landscape fires, with the resulting smoke strongly impacting air quality in the region and the health of millions of people.
This research team is the very first to have measured the ground-level smoke composition from active peatland burning in the region. They combined that data with satellite information to derive the first greenhouse gas emissions estimates of the 2015 fires, finding that 884 million tons of carbon dioxide was released in the region last year – 97% originating from burning in Indonesia. The corresponding carbon emissions were 289 million tons, and associated carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions 1.2 billion tons.
Satellites provided data on the heat output being radiated by the fires, as well as information on the amount of carbon monoxide present in the surrounding atmosphere. From this, the total carbon emissions were calculated by combining those measurements with the newly determined emission factors of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and methane measured at fires burning in October 2015 outside of Palangka Raya in Central Kalimantan province – one of the hardest-hit fire sites.
"There have been some isolated studies before where people artificially set fires in the lab to try to understand the chemical characteristics of peatland fire smoke in Indonesia. But no one had done this on natural fires, and especially not on the kind of extreme fires seen in 2015. We are the first people to do that," said Wooster.
The results indicate that regional carbon dioxide emissions from landscape fires were 11.3 million tons per day in September and October 2015, exceeding the EU's daily rate of 8.9 million tons. Further, 77% of the regional fire carbon emissions for the year occurred during that time – at the peak of the fires.
The scientists also compared their results to those of the 1997 El Niño-related fires in the region.
"In 1997 the drought lasted longer, the fires were more severe and a lot more forest burned. In 2015, fires mostly burned on degraded peatland covered with shrubs and wood debris," said CIFOR scientist David Gaveau.
The study's results have wide implications for future research, whether it is in respect to studies of landscape burning or the impacts of fire emissions on climate and public health, and they contribute to better understanding the need for fire prevention and improved landscape management.
"What is important is the applicability of a study like this in helping policy makers to use more accurate fire emission factors to design policy and act to prevent further fires and greenhouse gas emissions," CIFOR scientist Daniel Murdiyarso said.
————————————————————
Contacts:
Martin J. Wooster
King's College London and NERC National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO)
Email: martin.wooster@kcl.ac.uk
Daniel Murdiyarso
Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia and Department of Geophysics and Meteorology, Bogor Agricultural University, Bogor, Indonesia
Email: d.murdiyarso@cgiar.org; Tel: +62-251-8622622 (Office)

El Niño could drive intense season for Amazon fires




El Niño could drive intense season for Amazon fires

Irvine, Calif., June 29, 2016 – The long-lasting effects of El Niño are projected to cause an intense fire season in the Amazon, according to the 2016 seasonal forecast from scientists at NASA and the University of California, Irvine.
El Niño conditions in 2015 and early 2016 altered rainfall patterns around the world.  In the Amazon, El Niño reduced rainfall during the wet season, leaving the region drier at the start of the 2016 dry season than any year since 2002, according to NASA satellite data.
"It's the driest we've seen it at the onset of a fire season, and an important challenge now is to find ways to use this information to limit damages in coming months," said Jim Randerson, Chancellor's Professor of Earth system science at UCI. He developed the forecast methodology with UCI research scientist Yang Chen and colleagues at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.  "Just as El Nino is known to have an impact on precipitation in the western United States, it also affects the Amazon, but in that case it causes drier conditions."
Wildfire risk for the dry-season months of July, August and September this year now exceeds the danger in 2005 and 2010, drought years when large areas of Amazon rainforest burned, said Doug Morton, NASA Earth scientist.
"Severe drought conditions at the start of the dry season set the stage for extreme fire risk in 2016 across the southern Amazon," Morton said.
The forecast uses the relationship between climate and active burn detections from NASA satellites to predict fire season severity during the region's dry season. Developed in 2011, the forecast model is focused particularly on the link between sea surface temperatures and fire activity. Warmer sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific (El Niño) and Atlantic oceans shift rainfall away from the Amazon region, increasing the risk of fires during dry season months.
The team also uses data on terrestrial water storage from a joint NASA/German mission to follow changes in groundwater during the dry season. Satellite measurements serve as a proxy for the dryness of soils and forests.
For 2016, El Niño-driven conditions are far drier than 2005 and 2010 – the last years when the region experienced drought. The team has also developed a web tool to track the evolution of the Amazon fire season in near real time. Estimated fire emissions from each forecast region are updated daily, based on the relationship between active detections – made by the Moderate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer instrument on NASA's Terra satellite – and fire emissions data from the Global Fire Emissions Database in previous years. So far, however, the region has seen more fires to date than those years, another indicator that aligns with the fire severity forecast.
Fires in the Amazon have local, regional, and long-distance impacts. Agricultural fires that escape their intended boundaries can damage neighboring croplands and Amazon forests. Even slow-moving forest fires cause severe degradation, as the rainforest trees are not adapted to burns. Together, intentional fires for agricultural management, deforestation, and wildfires generate massive smoke plumes that degrade regional air quality, exacerbating problems with asthma and respiratory illness. Smoke eventually flows south and east over major urban centers in southern Brazil, including São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, contributing to air quality concerns.
"When trees have less moisture to draw upon at the beginning of the dry season, they become more vulnerable to fire, and evaporate less water into the atmosphere," said Randerson. "This puts millions of trees under stress and lowers humidity across the region, allowing fires to grow bigger than they normally would."
While scientists have been working with South American officials to broadcast the results of the forecasts and increase awareness of fire risk, they also said that the work could lead to better wildfire forecasts in other regions of the world. The team recently identified nine regions outside the Amazon where fire season risk can also be forecast three to six months ahead of peak activity. It may be possible to build operational seasonal fire forecasts for much of Central America and for many countries in Southeast Asia, Randerson said.
About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It's located in one of the world's safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County's second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.
Media access: Radio programs/stations may, for a fee, use an on-campus ISDN line to interview UCI faculty and experts, subject to availability and university approval. For more UCI news, visit news.uci.edu. Additional resources for journalists may be found at communications.uci.edu/for-journalists.

US Ambassador Slams UN Inaction on Migrants




US ambassador to UN slams nations 'making no effort' for refugees

"Worse, some countries are actually cutting back on the number of admitted refugee," the ambassador said
By Sebastien Malo
NEW YORK, June 29 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on Wednesday took aim at nations she said are failing to help refugees fleeing war in the Middle East and elsewhere, calling anti-immigrant rhetoric and sentiment misguided.
Millions of Syrians have found refuge in bordering countries such as Turkey and Lebanon, but wealthier nations have provided shelter to far fewer people seeking new lives, Samantha Power said in a speech at the United States Institute for Peace in Washington.
More than 60 million people fled their homes last year, and nearly 5 million Syrians have fled their country since the outbreak of civil war in 2011, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Yet at the end of last year, just 10 countries were hosting some 45 percent of the world's refugees, Power said.
"Even as the crisis continues to grow, many countries are making no effort at all to do their fair share," Power said.
"Worse, some countries are actually cutting back on the number of admitted refugees, or they've said that they won't take any refugees at all," she said.
Germany has pledged to take in hundreds of thousands of refugees, and Canada has admitted nearly 30,000 Syrian refugees since late last year.
The European Union, meanwhile, has come under fire after striking a deal with Turkey to stem an influx that brought a million refugees and migrants to Europe in 2015.
The United States has promised to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees but has let just 4,500 in since 2013, according to U.S. figures cited by UNHCR.
Power said calls to halt refugee programs over security concerns after deadly attacks in Paris last year and in Orlando, Florida this month were "misguided."
The Paris attacks by an Islamist group left 130 people dead, while the gunman in Orlando, who killed 49 people in a gay nightclub, called himself an "Islamic soldier."
"What is not appropriate ... (is) failing to see the difference between a homegrown terrorist and a refugee, or drawing misguided and discriminatory conclusions about entire groups of people based on the countries from which their families immigrated or the faith that they observe," she said.
Her speech came as support for politicians with anti-immigration messages has grown in such rich countries as Great Britain, which has just voted to leave the European Union.
The United States is hosting a summit on refugee and migrants in September, when it will ask other countries to step up and take in more refugees, Power said.
(Reporting by Sebastien Malo, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

India Drought Caused Killing Over Water




Murders, violence on rise as parched central India battles for water

Years of worsening rainfall have created crisis conditions, leading families to fight to protect water, police say
By Shuriah Niazi
BHOPAL, India, June 29 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Imrat Namdev and her younger sister Pushpa Namdev were neighbours in Chhatarpur district, in the drought-hit Indian region of Bundelkhand. Both relied on the same well for water and, according to police, frequently quarrelled over how much the other was using.
In May, during one fight over water, Pushpa, 42, beat Imrat, 48, with a stick, police say. The injured sister was rushed to a hospital, but died there, and Pushpa was charged with murder.
"Our village faces a severe shortage of potable water," Imrat's son, Jitendra, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "Pushpa always felt my mother drew more water from the well."
As northern and central India continue to suffer thorough severe drought and oppressive heat, police in Bundelkhand and several other regions are reporting a rise in violent - and often deadly - clashes over water.
After almost 10 years of below-average rainfall and several consecutive years of drought, the region's rivers, lakes, reservoirs and wells are drying up.
Disputes are a common problem in many places in India that face water shortages. But Indian police report that the fighting is getting more frequent and bloody. In many parts of the country, neighbours, friends and family are turning on each other, desperate to protect what little water they have left, police records suggest.
Last month, in the tribal-dominated Alirajpur district of Madhya Pradesh, 13-year-old Surmada, her brother and her uncle used a neighbour's hand-pump, without permission, to get water for the family's houseguests.
According to police, the owner of the pump and his son attacked the group with arrows. One pierced Surmada's eye, killing her.
And in the village of Kanker, in Shivpuri district, a large-scale argument broke out after two motorcyclists got into an accident, causing one to spill the 15-litre (4 gallon) container of water he was carrying.
"The two later called their family members and friends and attacked each other with spears, axes and sticks," said investigating officer Jaisingh Yadav of Sathanwada police station. Fifteen people were injured, five of them women, he said.
Lal Singh Arya, Madhya Pradesh's urban administration and development minister, said the government is using all its resources to try to make sure everyone has water. But he predicted tensions will remain high until monsoon rains - which began recently in some areas - take hold.
"There have been disputes over water in many parts of the state because of two consecutive droughts," he said. "The situation will improve with the monsoon rains."
ONLY DRINKING WATER
Activists say the government's failure to act to better manage water is partly to blame for the rise in violence.
"The present crisis is the fallout of over-consumption, wasteful use and inefficient water governance systems," said Ajay Dubey, an activist with the environmental non-governmental organisation Prayatna, based in Madhya Pradesh.
"People are going to any lengths for the sake of water. They've lost hope that the situation will ever improve. Things were never so bad," Dubey said.
According to the Madhya Pradesh water resource department, out of the state's 139 main reservoirs, 82 are at only 10 percent capacity and 22 are empty. As authorities try to make the remaining water last until monsoon rains help refill the reservoirs, the measures they have implemented have only exacerbated the sense of desperation.
Across much of the region, authorities have banned the use of water for washing cars or trucks, bathing cattle or irrigating crops. In most cities in Madhya Pradesh, the local government only supplies drinking water on one out of every two to seven days.
The district administration of Sehore in Madhya Pradesh has temporarily taken charge of all water sources, whether government or privately owned, so that it can manage use of the dwindling resource. And in three towns in Madhya Pradesh, the use of water for anything other than drinking is banned.
Lokesh Kumar, sub-divisional magistrate of Ichhawar town, said water can't be used for farming or industrial purposes until July 5, when the monsoon is underway and authorities hope water sources will be replenished.
For many in rural India, the struggle to survive with very little water is proving too difficult. In areas like Bundelkhand, a growing number of people are leaving their homes and abandoning their work in hopes of finding water - even just a little more - somewhere else.
Asandi Das, who lives in a village in Chhatarpur district, plans to take his family to Agra, where the famous Taj Mahal is located, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. He said that right now his family has neither food nor water.
He knows it won't be easy even in Agra - or anywhere else - but hopes to get enough work to make ends meet.
"We'll not be able to survive in our village," Das said. "There's just no water. We'll have to go to some other place if we want to live."
(Reporting by Shuriah Niazi; editing by Jumana Farouky and Laurie Goering :; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, women's rights, trafficking and property rights. Visit http://news.trust.org/climate)

Despite Brexit UK Gov Stay Climate Change Course...




UK govt says committed to fighting climate change despite Brexit

"Climate change remains one of the most serious long-term risks to our economic and national security," says minister
By Susanna Twidale
LONDON, June 29 (Reuters) - Britain's government remains committed to fighting climate change despite last week's vote to leave the European Union, the country's energy and climate minister said on Wednesday.
"While I think the UK's role in dealing with a warming planet may have been made harder by the decision last Thursday, our commitment to dealing with it has not gone away," Amber Rudd told a Business and Climate Summit in London.
"Climate change has not been downgraded as a threat. It remains one of the most serious long-term risks to our economic and national security," she said.
She said annual support for renewable electricity generation is expected to double during this parliament to more than 10 billion pounds.
"We will work closely to reassure people ... we need to be clear that Britain is open for business and it is a good place to invest," she said.
Britain has a legally binding target to cut emissions by 80 percent on 1990 levels by 2050. To meet this, the government sets five-yearly carbon budgets.
The fifth carbon budget (2028-2032), was set out by advisory body the Committee on Climate Change last year and calls for a 57 percent cut in emissions on 1990 levels by 2030.
Rudd said the government would on Thursday announce its decision on whether to accept the CCC's advice.
(Reporting by Susanna Twidale, editing by Louise Heavens and David Evans)

Indonesia faces environmental time bomb from Empty Coal Pits




Indonesia faces environmental time bomb after coal bust

Abandoned pits are death traps for children who swim there, and acidic water is killing nearby rice paddies
* Local officials gave thousands of permits to small miners
* Most have not paid required money to restore land
* Indonesia lacks data on permits and reclamation funds
* Mine closures seen accelerating next few years
* Abandoned mine pits pose danger to children and crops
By Fergus Jensen
SAMARINDA, Indonesia, June 29 (Reuters) - Thousands of mines are closing in Indonesia's tropical coal belt as prices languish and seams run dry. But almost none of the companies have paid their share of billions of dollars owed to repair the badly scarred landscape they have left behind.
Abandoned mine pits dot the bare, treeless hillsides in Samarinda, the capital of East Kalimantan province on Indonesia's part of Borneo island. It is ground zero for a coal boom that made Indonesia the world's biggest exporter of the mineral that fuels power plants. Abandoned mining pits have now become death traps for children who swim in them, and their acidic water is killing nearby rice paddies.
Indonesia has tried, mostly in vain, to get mining companies to keep their promises to clean up the ravaged landscape. But it doesn't even have basic data on who holds the many thousands of mining licenses that were handed out during the boom days, officials say.
"Nobody was in control," said Dian Patria, who works on natural resources at the country's Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
Patria estimated that 90 percent of the more than 10,000 mining license holders had not paid the reclamation funds they owe by law. One-third are for coal.
Even if they wanted to, many companies now lack the cash. The same large banks that lent billions during the boom have now pulled out of coal, wary of the sector's commercial outlook and contribution to climate change.
The problem is not unique to Indonesia. As mineral prices languish, even major global miners are trying to avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in increasingly hefty closure costs, mostly by selling off pits.
FEW QUESTIONS ASKED
After pro-democracy protesters swept Indonesia's authoritarian president Suharto from power in 1998, the Jakarta government gave towns and districts control of natural resources as part of far-reaching decentralisation reforms aimed at preventing the archipelago from fracturing.
Newly empowered local leaders handed out thousands of mining licenses, many of them to small operators, as coal prices leapt from around $40 per tonne in 2005 to nearly $200 at their peak in 2008. In East Kalimantan alone, around half the province was covered in coal mining permits.
Under President Joko Widodo, elected in 2014, Indonesia has promised to turn around its dismal environmental record. The administration has also wrested control over natural resources away from local leaders, giving it to provincial governors instead.
Awang Faroek Ishak, East Kalimantan's governor, has issued a moratorium on new licenses. He is threatening to punish mining companies that have failed to restore the land, he said in an interview. But the data on mining companies and funds for rehabilitation are missing, he said.
"How can we look into this if we don't have the documents," he complained.
Greenpeace activist Kiki Taufik says governors do, however, have the authority to freeze permits and operations while they investigate. "The governors have authority, but they never use this authority."
PATCHY OVERSIGHT
Most of the mining licenses went to small firms, many of which have gone bankrupt or simply abandoned their operations, mining industry officials say.
"For now, it's really difficult not to lose money," said Budi Situmorang, a mining engineer at small coal miner CV Arjuna. "All we can really do is hold on. Looking at the 56 mines in Samarinda, no more than 10 are still active."
The mining companies themselves are supposed to restore the land from money they paid into accounts held at state banks and supervised by local officials.
"That's what you're supposed to do, but in practice very few people do it," except for the major mining firms, the head of Indonesia's Coal Mining Association, Pandu Sjahrir, told Reuters.
The central government has had a list since 2011 of nearly 4,000 licenses that have failed to meet their requirements. It expects to be able to revoke the problematic permits only by January 2017.
Patria's team at the anti-corruption agency is pushing for the national government's Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) to investigate miners - including over unpaid rehabilitation funds estimated in the hundreds of millions.
Even that is only a fraction of the cash that would actually be required, says Merah Johansyah from the Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM).
Pressure from campaigners is increasing as mine closures reach a peak by 2020, according to some industry estimates. One set of 2,272 coal permits and contracts, compiled by mining consultancy SMGC and reviewed by Reuters, showed the average expiry date of the permit is October 2017.
MINING WITHOUT PERMITS
But environmental watchdogs say an end to permits does not mean an end to mining. "In East Kalimantan, even where permits have long been revoked, they're still operating," Syahrul Fitra, a legal researcher at the environmental NGO Auriga told Reuters. "What we found in the field is that no punishments have been applied."
In areas where companies are conducting reclamation activities, it is usually not to replant forests -- most mining concessions are being turned into housing developments, agricultural land or other uses, environmentalists and industry officials say.
In the meantime, the run-off water and mud from abandoned pits, numbering around 150 in Samarinda alone, are polluting surrounding rice paddies and rivers.
After his employer closed a small mine in Samarinda, Suyadi, who like many Indonesians uses one name, went back to working the small rice paddy on his family's farm on the edge of the city. The mines, however, have followed him there.
"Like it or not, the tailings flow here," says Suyadi, referring to the stream of chemically treated mining debris that is left after coal is extracted.
"If they continue to leave it like this, where else will that water flow? To the lower areas where there are rice paddies," Suyadi said.
The attractive aqua hue of the water in the abandoned pits conceals a darker story: 24 local children using them as swimming holes have drowned around Samarinda over the past five years.
(Writing by Clara Ferreira Marques, Editing by Bill Tarrant.)

Un rapport du Sénat français pointe la «mauvaise gouvernance» au Sahel - RFI




Un rapport du Sénat français pointe la «mauvaise gouvernance» au Sahel

« Sahel : repenser l'aide publique au développement », c'est le titre d'un rapport publié ce mercredi 29 juin à Paris. Un rapport de la commission des Affaires étrangères, de la défense et des forces armées du Sénat. Ce rapport insiste notamment sur ce qu'il appelle « le fléau de la mauvaise gouvernance ».

Au départ, il y a ce constat : l'aide publique est importante – entre 300 et 500 millions d'euros d'aide bilatérale par an pour 6 pays du Sahel, sans compter l'aide européenne – mais cette aide est peu efficace et les pays du Sahel n'ont pas réussi à enclencher un processus de développement.
Dans son rapport, la commission va plus loin : elle se demande même si « cette aide internationale n'a pas une part de responsabilité dans la crise malienne ». « Compte tenu des réseaux de clientélisme construits par le pouvoir malien dans les communes du Nord, la sélection des projets, des partenaires ou des agences d'exécution était influencée par des arrangements frauduleux entre les entités politiques et les entreprises privées, parfois aux dépens de la population », peut-on lire dans le rapport.
D'où cette conclusion : « Il faut placer la lutte contre la corruption au coeur des priorités dans le dialogue politique avec les pays du Sahel ».
Malgré ces problèmes de mauvaise gouvernance, la commission des Affaires étrangères, de la Défense et des Forces armées se prononce pour le doublement des subventions bilatérales pour éviter ce qu'elle appelle le « saupoudrage », quitte à revoir à la baisse certaines dépenses multilatérales.

RDC: Kabila dénonce des «ingérences étrangères intempestives et illicites» - RFI




RDC: Kabila dénonce des «ingérences étrangères intempestives et illicites»

A la veille de la fête de l'indépendance en République démocratique du Congo, le président Joseph Kabila a prononcé un discours à la nation, ce mercredi 29 juin. Un discours assez offensif vis-à-vis des « ingérences intempestives et illicites ». Référence sans doute aux injonctions répétées de la communauté internationale à organiser les élections dans les délais constitutionnels et à ouvrir l'espace politique, mais aussi – à mots couverts – à l'opposition.

Pour le président Kabila, le pays fait toujours « aux mêmes menaces qu'au lendemain de son indépendance ». Le chef de l'Etat congolais dénonce « les ingérences étrangères, intempestives et illicites dans les affaires intérieures » de la RDC, rappelant que le Congo est un pays souverain qui souhaite « des partenariats constructifs ».
Le président congolais a également évoqué les martyrs qui ont payé un lourd tribut pour que « vive la patrie toujours et perpétuellement en danger ». « Le credo de notre lutte demeure le respect du droit de notre peuple à s'autodéterminer », a déclaré Joseph Kabila.
Le chef de l'Etat congolais a aussi souligné qu'il y a un an, jour pour jour, il avait proposé un dialogue national. « J'ai eu à l'esprit l'impérieuse nécessité d'engager la classe politique à conjurer les contestations intempestives des calendriers publiés sous des pressions diverses et celle prévisible d'un fichier électoral qualifié de peu fiable », a ajouté le chef de l'Etat congolais.

Joseph Kabila assure que l'option du dialogue est portée « à bout de bras par l'ensemble de notre peuple et même la majorité de la classe politique ». « Une option pour moi irréversible », insiste le président Kabila. « A tous ceux qui pensent que l'histoire de ce pays devrait toujours s'écrire en lettres de sang et par d'autres », le chef de l'Etat congolais répond : « Notre peuple est mûre, il connait parfaitement où se trouvent ses intérêts et comment en assurer leur défense ».
Joseph Kabila a aussi eu quelques mots pour parler de la situation économique, très difficile. Il dit avoir conscience que le pouvoir d'achat des Congolais a baissé. Il a assuré que des mesures avaient été prises et félicité pour leur travail les forces de défense et de sécurité.

Nigeria: un chanteur engagé kidnappé puis relâché après cinq jours de détention - RFI




Nigeria: un chanteur engagé kidnappé puis relâché après cinq jours de détention

Un musicien populaire dans le nord du Nigeria a été relâché après cinq jours de détention aux mains de ravisseurs non identifiés. Ado Dahiru Daukaka a été kidnappé ce vendredi 24 juin alors qu'il venait de publier une chanson qui dénonçait la corruption des parlementaires dans l'Etat de l'Adamawa.

Ado Dahiru Daukaka a été libéré par ses ravisseurs à 80 kilomètres de chez lui, ce mercredi 29 juin, a confirmé la police nigériane. Durant sa détention, ses ravisseurs lui ont demandé pourquoi il mettait son nez dans les affaires des autres. Pour le chanteur, le lien entre la sortie de son nouveau titre et son kidnapping ne fait aucun doute, a-t-il confié à l'Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Le morceau intitulé Gyara Kayanga, qui signifie « mettez de l'ordre chez vous » en langue hausa, dénonce la corruption dans les rangs des membres du Parlement dans l'Etat de l'Adamawa, une assemblée dominée par le parti APC qui a porté le président Muhamadu Buhari au pouvoir il y a plus d'un an.
Le président Buhari a fait de la lutte contre la corruption son cheval de bataille. Chanteur pacifiste et engagé, Ado Dahiru Daukaka jouit d'une réelle popularité dans le nord du Nigeria. Ses ravisseurs ne lui ont pas porté de coups, mais il dit avoir été traumatisé et affaibli par cette détention et a dû être hospitalisé. La police a annoncé l'ouverture d'une enquête.

South China Sea Spat a Symptom of U.S.-China Jockeying for Advantage | RAND




South China Sea Spat a Symptom of U.S.-China Jockeying for Advantage


Photo by PO3 Andre T. Richard/U.S. Navy
The aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis approaches the fast combat support ship USNS Rainier during a replenishment at sea, South China Sea, March 4, 2016
A spate of high-profile diplomatic feuds and military actions related to the South China Sea has raised concern about the direction of U.S.-China relations. At the Shangri La Dialogue held in Singapore from June 3-5, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter charged that China risked "self isolation" through its behavior in the South China Sea. For their part, Chinese officials and media have dismissed such criticisms. President Xi Jinping has firmly defended Chinese actions in the South China Sea, warning that "China will not accept freedom of navigation as an excuse to undermine China's sovereignty and national security interests." One Xinhua commentary accused the United States of "building a Great Wall of containment and encirclement by gathering allies and instigating conflicts."
On the water, a series of near-incidents have further added to the tensions. On May 10, a U.S. destroyer sailed close by a Chinese artificial island in the South China Sea. China responded by sending three combatant vessels and two fighter planes to ward off the U.S. ship. In June, U.S. authorities accused the Chinese of conducting a dangerous, high-speed intercept of a U.S. reconnaissance airplane operating in the South China Sea.
The maritime tensions stand out as the most prominent of a set of disputes between China and the United States. The two countries continue to argue over cyber espionage, trade and U.S. alliance activities in the Asia-Pacific, among other topics. Underpinning these various issues lays an intensifying strategic competition, driven largely by the rapid gains in Chinese national power relative to the United States. Although its growth is slowing, China's economy will very likely continue to expand at a higher rate than that of the United States, which could result in greater parity in GDP (PDF) between the two countries. China's military, while still inferior, has considerably reduced the gap in capability, especially in potential contingencies along its maritime border. Further investments could narrow the divide even more in coming years.
Beijing sees huge opportunity in these developments. Chinese leaders incessantly point out that long-term trends suggest a gradual evolution toward a more multipolar world order. Countries of the industrial West are expected to see their share of global GDP shrink (PDF), while that of the developing world will likely increase. Anticipating this shift, Beijing is positioning itself as a champion of developing countries. It has rejected the notion of universal political ideals and values founded on human rights and democracy and instead promoted a vision featuring a much weaker political consensus centered on material gains from trade and investment, and principles of non-interference....
The remainder of this commentary is available on worldpoliticsreview.com.

Timothy R. Heath is a senior defense and international analyst at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation.
This commentary originally appeared on World Politics Review on June 27, 2016.

El Niño could drive intense season for Amazon fires




El Niño could drive intense season for Amazon fires

Irvine, Calif., June 29, 2016 – The long-lasting effects of El Niño are projected to cause an intense fire season in the Amazon, according to the 2016 seasonal forecast from scientists at NASA and the University of California, Irvine.
El Niño conditions in 2015 and early 2016 altered rainfall patterns around the world.  In the Amazon, El Niño reduced rainfall during the wet season, leaving the region drier at the start of the 2016 dry season than any year since 2002, according to NASA satellite data.
"It's the driest we've seen it at the onset of a fire season, and an important challenge now is to find ways to use this information to limit damages in coming months," said Jim Randerson, Chancellor's Professor of Earth system science at UCI. He developed the forecast methodology with UCI research scientist Yang Chen and colleagues at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.  "Just as El Nino is known to have an impact on precipitation in the western United States, it also affects the Amazon, but in that case it causes drier conditions."
Wildfire risk for the dry-season months of July, August and September this year now exceeds the danger in 2005 and 2010, drought years when large areas of Amazon rainforest burned, said Doug Morton, NASA Earth scientist.
"Severe drought conditions at the start of the dry season set the stage for extreme fire risk in 2016 across the southern Amazon," Morton said.
The forecast uses the relationship between climate and active burn detections from NASA satellites to predict fire season severity during the region's dry season. Developed in 2011, the forecast model is focused particularly on the link between sea surface temperatures and fire activity. Warmer sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific (El Niño) and Atlantic oceans shift rainfall away from the Amazon region, increasing the risk of fires during dry season months.
The team also uses data on terrestrial water storage from a joint NASA/German mission to follow changes in groundwater during the dry season. Satellite measurements serve as a proxy for the dryness of soils and forests.
For 2016, El Niño-driven conditions are far drier than 2005 and 2010 – the last years when the region experienced drought. The team has also developed a web tool to track the evolution of the Amazon fire season in near real time. Estimated fire emissions from each forecast region are updated daily, based on the relationship between active detections – made by the Moderate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer instrument on NASA's Terra satellite – and fire emissions data from the Global Fire Emissions Database in previous years. So far, however, the region has seen more fires to date than those years, another indicator that aligns with the fire severity forecast.
Fires in the Amazon have local, regional, and long-distance impacts. Agricultural fires that escape their intended boundaries can damage neighboring croplands and Amazon forests. Even slow-moving forest fires cause severe degradation, as the rainforest trees are not adapted to burns. Together, intentional fires for agricultural management, deforestation, and wildfires generate massive smoke plumes that degrade regional air quality, exacerbating problems with asthma and respiratory illness. Smoke eventually flows south and east over major urban centers in southern Brazil, including São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, contributing to air quality concerns.
"When trees have less moisture to draw upon at the beginning of the dry season, they become more vulnerable to fire, and evaporate less water into the atmosphere," said Randerson. "This puts millions of trees under stress and lowers humidity across the region, allowing fires to grow bigger than they normally would."
While scientists have been working with South American officials to broadcast the results of the forecasts and increase awareness of fire risk, they also said that the work could lead to better wildfire forecasts in other regions of the world. The team recently identified nine regions outside the Amazon where fire season risk can also be forecast three to six months ahead of peak activity. It may be possible to build operational seasonal fire forecasts for much of Central America and for many countries in Southeast Asia, Randerson said.
About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It's located in one of the world's safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County's second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.
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L’ONU dénombre 350 exécutions extrajudiciaires en un an au Burundi




L'ONU dénombre 350 exécutions extrajudiciaires en un an au Burundi



Près de 350 exécutions extrajudiciaires et quelque 650 cas de torture ont été enregistrés entre avril 2015 et avril 2016 au Burundi, commis en majorité par des membres de la police et des services de renseignement, a annoncé mercredi 29 juin l'ONU.

Dans un rapport présenté à Genève, le Haut-Commissaire aux droits de l'homme, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, a déploré « la détérioration tragique et massive » de la situation dans le pays depuis que le président sortant Pierre Nkurunziza a décidé de se présenter pour un troisième mandat, plongeant le pays dans une crise politique profonde.
« Les violations infligées au peuple burundais incluent les exécutions extrajudiciaires, les meurtres, les disparitions forcées, les arrestations arbitraires, les tortures et autres formes de mauvais traitements, dont les violences sexuelles », a-t-il dit devant le Conseil des droits de l'homme. « Les auteurs de ces violations et abus sont des membres des forces de sécurité et de renseignement », a-t-il ajouté.

« Climat de peur »

Les enquêteurs de l'ONU ont comptabilisé 348 cas d'exécutions extrajudiciaires visant des membres de l'opposition et de la société civile opposés au troisième mandat du président, réélu en juillet dernier. Le rapport dénonce également 134 meurtres commis par des hommes non identifiés et visant cette fois des policiers et des civils proches du pouvoir.
« Ces violations et abus ont créé un climat de peur », selon Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, qui rappelle que près de 270 000 personnes ont été forcées de fuir le Burundi. Le Haut-commissaire a également dénoncé « les perspectives réelles d'une escalade des violences ethniques », notamment contre les Tutsis.

Au Nigeria, le « Brexit » inspire les indépendantistes biafrais




Au Nigeria, le « Brexit » inspire les indépendantistes biafrais

Par Mélanie Gonzalez (contributrice Le Monde Afrique)


Après le « Brexit », voici venu le  « BiafrExit ». Ou plutôt le #Biafrexit. La tendance a vu le jour sur la twittosphère nigériane au lendemain du référendum britannique. Pourquoi les activistes biafrais n'organiseraient-ils pas eux aussi leur propre référendum pour l'indépendance du Biafra ?

— Emeka Mekus (@emekus2000)
« #Biafra : nous lançons la campagne #BiafrExit (…) », annonce sur son compte Twitter Emeka Mekus. A son tweet, il joint cette publication officielle du mouvement indépendantiste : « Le peuple indigène du Biafra (IPOB), sous le leadership de Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, lance officiellement le slogan de campagne BiafrExit Vote. »
Ancienne colonie britannique, le Nigeria a pris son indépendance le 1er octobre 1960. Sept ans plus tard, l'Eastern Region, l'un des quatre Etats qui formaient le Nigeria de l'époque, faisait sécession en créant la République indépendante du Biafra. Une réponse aux massacres perpétués par le Nord islamisé sur les populations igbos d'un Sud largement christianisé et dominant le pays grâce à ses ressources pétrolières (les quatre cinquièmes du pays) ainsi qu'une forte scolarisation.
Cette tentative séparatiste fut réprimée violemment au cours de la guerre du Biafra qui dura jusqu'en 1970 et la défaite des sécessionnistes. Un à deux millions de rebelles y perdirent la vie, succombant, pour la plupart, à la famine. La région et ses 14 millions d'habitants sont alors rattachés au Nigeria. Si l'aspiration à l'indépendance n'a jamais vraiment été enterrée, la revendication refait particulièrement surface aujourd'hui, suite à un conflit entre bergers peuls du Nord et agriculteurs igbos du Sud.
Le hashtag #BiafrExit, à résonance internationale, est aujourd'hui repris par de nombreux militants en faveur de l'indépendance. Très tôt, un parallèle est dressé entre la situation britannique et celle de la région du Sud-Est :
« Brexit : ce qui est bon pour la Grande-Bretagne est bon aussi pour le Biafra », publie un internaute sur son compte.
You must EDUCATE BUHARI that secession isn't a call for WAR but expression of freedom of people
— @Biafran Biafra (@ekdillinger007)
« La sécession n'est pas un appel à la guerre, mais l'expression de la liberté du peuple », déclare quant à lui cet activiste.
La plate-forme Twitter s'est imposée en incontournable outil de communication pour le peuple indigène : « Nous tweetons. Nos seules armes sont Twitter et Radio Biafra », déclarait le mouvement en avril.
BIAFREXIT---THE LAST MIRACLE IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN http://dlvr.it/LgVjLY 
— Radio Biafra (@radiobiafralive)
Radio Biafra relaye également sur son compte Twitter divers articles militants : « Aujourd'hui, le monde assiste à la résurrection du Biafra, de façon plus forte encore que dans les années 1990 », peut-on lire sur le communiqué dont le lien est posté sur ce tweet.
Déjà, les premiers sondages fleurissent sur la Toile. Kayode Ogundamisi, blogueur nigérian et chroniqueur, lance, à l'image d'autres intellectuels, sa propre enquête sur son compte Twitter :
With the outcome of @eureferendum and should carry out a referendum on exiting ?
— Kayode Ogundamisi (@ogundamisi)
« En vue du résultat du référendum britannique sur le Brexit, le Nigeria doit-il effectuer un référendum pour l'indépendance du Biafra ? », demande-t-il. Sur l'échantillon des 1 121 votes récoltés, le oui l'emporte à 62 %.

L'intransigeance de Buhari

Le sénateur Ben Murray-Bruce du People's Democratic Party (PDP, la formation de l'ex-président Goodluck Jonathan, défait en 2015) est une des premières personnalités politiques de premier plan à réagir :
Brexit hit the British economy hard. I'm sure they'll recover. But what does it mean for Nigeria? It means we're better as one united nation
— Ben Murray-Bruce (@benmurraybruce)
« Le Brexit frappe durement l'économie britannique. Je suis sûr qu'ils vont s'en remettre. Mais qu'est-ce que cela signifie pour le Nigeria ? Cela signifie que nous sommes plus forts en tant que nation unie », indique-t-il, mettant en garde contre la désintégration du Nigeria.
If a nation as advanced and stable as UK can experience extreme economic shock from breakup with the EU, what awaits Nigeria if we break up?
— Ben Murray-Bruce (@benmurraybruce)
« Si une nation aussi avancée et stable que le Royaume-Uni peut se permettre l'immense choc économique qu'est une séparation de l'UE, qu'est-ce qui attend le Nigeria si nous nous divisons ? », ajoute-t-il dans un autre tweet.
Le président Muhammadu Buhari quant à lui ne s'est pas encore exprimé sur le nouveau slogan de campagne des indépendantistes, mais l'ancien général avait clairement déclaré qu'il ne céderait pas face à ceux qui menacent l'unité du pays.

Nigeria: New Militant Group Threatens Attack On Govt, Oil Facilities in Imo - allAfrica.com




Nigeria: New Militant Group Threatens Attack On Govt, Oil Facilities in Imo

By Chidi Nkwopara
Owerri — A new militant group that operates on the platform of Niger Delta Red Squad, NDRS, has threatened to attack some government and oil facilities in Imo State.
The fresh threat is coming barely few days after it hit a facility operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company in Awarra, Ohaji/Egbema local council area of Imo State.
Confirming the initial attack on the Shell facility, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, of the State Police Command, Mr. Andrew Enwerem, a deputy superintendent of police, DSP, said that they received the report of the incident but could not immediately say the extent of damage done by the attack.

"We got the report of the destruction of oil installation of oil facility in Awarra but we are yet to know the extent of the damage", the PPRO said.
The current threat, which was signed by one General Don Wannie, the group fumed that oil producing communities have nothing to show for the many years of oil exploration and exploitation.
THE GROUP'S ANGER
"Oil companies started operation in our community since 1957, but up till date, we have nothing to show as benefit. For Imo State Government, we will make sure you make no further gains from Ohaji/Egbema.
"Since God's creation, neither Imo State Government nor oil companies have remembered us. We have been neglected and abandoned. No electricity. No tarred roads. No drinking water. No hospital. No youth employment or empowerment. We shall destroy everything in Imo State that was built with our oil money".

While claiming responsibility for blowing up two Shell pipelines, the group also promised to inflict maximum damage to oil facilities, if Ohaji/Egbema communities are not given due benefits from their oil resource.
The group equally warned Waltersmith Petroleum Oil Limited of an imminent attack on the company's facilities.
"We will let them know that the security which they claim to have is insufficient. So, they should go and hire more because we are coming to launch attack on them any moment from now", the group said.
While asking the Federal Government to immediately redress the ugly situation and not making the mistake of taking them for granted, the group however, warned that if the federal and state governments think they are joking, "we will shock them."

Uganda: Report Lists Police As Worst Rights Abuser in 2016 Polls




Uganda: Report Lists Police As Worst Rights Abuser in 2016 Polls

By Prisca Baike
The reluctance by President Museveni to speak out publicly or punish abuses of human rights before, during and after the February general elections has drawn a torrent of criticism from rights and democracy advocates.
According to Dr Livingstone Sewanyana, the executive director of the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI), "since elections and swearing-in [on May 12], the president has on many occasions left out the issues of democracy and human rights."

Sewanyana spoke at the launch of FHRI's report titled; Human rights and elections in Uganda (2016): A call to action, at the Imperial Royale hotel on Monday. A case in point is Dr Kizza Besigye, the second-place finisher in the recent presidential election, who has been arrested over 43 times since the 2011 elections with none of the charges preferred against him being conclusively heard in the courts of law.
The right to vote, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, right to life and right to liberty and security of the person are some of the rights that were violated in the just -concluded elections, according to the report.
The 2016 general elections, according to the report, were replete with disenfranchisement of voters in detention, Ugandans in the diaspora and also notably due to late delivery of polling materials, especially in Kampala and Wakiso districts. This, coupled with widespread voter bribery, multiple voting, stuffing of ballot boxes with pre-ticked ballots and altering of results were contrary to article 1(4) of the Constitution of Uganda.

Also, freedom of expression and space for the media to operate freely were restricted, with more than 100 cases of attacks on journalists, primarily by the Uganda Police Force. Tanga Odoi, the NRM electoral commission chairman, said the president has also condemned excessive police actions.
"The president has talked to us so much about human rights and democracy. The only problem is [the latter's] applicability."
Odoi added that if the president was not talking enough about the issues in question, then it was only right for the other stakeholders to talk about them in order to correct the situation.
"The history of violation of human rights must be used to correct the future," Odoi said.
In reference to Erias Lukwago, Kampala's lord mayor, who was present at the launch and recently emerged from house arrest, Odoi said; "The ability of the state to exist largely lies on how the human beings are treated. There was a time the lord mayor's rights were violated. I don't have to be Tanga Odoi to say that. I say it as a human being, without fear or favor."

Erasmus Twaruhukwa, the director of the Directorate of Human Rights and Legal Services in the Uganda Police Force, said the force is human rights compliant and has put in place a system to address abuses.
"The professional standards unit came up due to the increasing human rights violations, as an investigative arm against [errant] police officers," Twaruhuka said.
Lukwago, however, insisted that Uganda was fast turning into a police state without human rights compliance.
"This is a summary of impunity in this country," Lukwago said in reference to the report before urging members of the public to take action and restore constitutional order as Article 3 (4) of the Constitution demands.

Australia Tragic lack of leadership puts red hot climate change out in the cold




Tragic lack of leadership puts red hot climate change out in the cold


The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, with the environment minister, Greg Hunt, in Townsville in June.
The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, with the environment minister, Greg Hunt, in Townsville in June. Photograph: Mike Bowers for the Guardian

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If ever there was going to be a climate change election, surely this was going to be it.
As May came and the election date was announced, the implications of the global Paris agreement between more than 190 countries just months earlier were still resonating – the world was moving away from fossil fuels and the challenge to keep global warming well below 2C was agreed.
The globe had just had its hottest year on record. April was the 12th consecutive month to break global heat records. In Australia, we just had the warmest autumn on record.
Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, taken at Cape Grim in Tasmania, passed a symbolic 400 parts per million, driven by the burning of fossil fuels. Moves to cut climate research at the CSIRO made international headlines.
And then, of course, there was the worst global coral bleaching event on record, bookmarked by the worst known bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef, killing about a quarter of all corals mostly in the once "pristine" northern section.
This disaster coincided with the hottest sea surface temperatures on the reef in the Bureau of Meteorology's records going back to 1900.
So climate change and clean energy should have been the red-hot issue.
But instead, at least between the ALP and the Coalition, the reaction to these seismic events was, mostly, meh.
David Ritter, chief executive of Greenpeace Australia Pacific, says the reef's plight should have been the "tragic starting gun" for an election where all parties pitched a vision "for how Australia can flourish in a world of new technologies, renewable energy and cleaned up political economy".


Instead, the political response was "tragically inadequate".
"The political debate has lacked all sense of proportion," he says, reserving particular disappointment that the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, had turned away from his previous passionate advocacy for action.
"It is as if the onion eater may have gone, but the bad breath of climate denialism still lingers across the government."
I've spoken to several leaders in the climate and environment movement in the past couple of days and one message comes through consistently.
While poll after poll shows the Australian public wants action, there's a distinct lack of leadership from the ALP and the Coalition.
Only the Greens have consistently shown leadership – which goes almost without saying.
John Connor, chief executive of the Climate Institute, says climate was "knocking on the door" but continued to be only a "tier two issue" for the main parties.
Although the ALP had a "demonstrably stronger platform" for climate change and a transition to clean energy, there was a "credibility gulf" between both main parties, their leaders and the public.
"The public just doesn't believe them," he says.
Connor believes that whichever party gains power, the Paris climate agreement will force the hand of the next government.
As part of the process, the UN will carry out a global stocktake of climate pledges from all countries in 2018. The Paris agreement also ensures that future pledges to cut emissions improve over time.
"They've danced around it this time, but they will have to grapple with it very soon," he says. "This is all a curtain raiser for the next 12 months and the parties' credibility will be put to the test."

Fossil-fuelled politics?

Could one reason for the lack of leadership and low profile for the issues be down to the funding that major parties get from the fossil fuel and mining industry and the close relationships which those industries have forged across the political spectrum?
Blair Palese, chief executive of the climate campaign group 350.org Australia, thinks that is a big part of the story.
Her group ran a Pollution Free Politics campaign trying to get candidates to sign a simple pledge: "I support a ban on donations from fossil-fuel companies and a ban on subsidies to fossil-fuel companies."

350.org Australia's campaign video to push politicians to sign a pledge to get fossil fuel cash out of politics.

Palese says the campaign clearly touched a nerve with the Liberals who cited it six times in its "Greening of Labor" scare campaign.
Not surprisingly, no Liberals signed the pledge, but there were some successes. All sitting Greens MPs and senators signed, as have 18 Greens candidates.
Serving ALP member for Richmond, Justine Elliot, signed the pledge, as did three ALP candidates: Janelle Saffin (Page), David Atkins (Cook) and Steve Hegedus (Ryan).
Other notable signatories include independents Andrew Wilkie (Denison), Rob Oakeshott (Cowper) and Rob Taber (New England).
Palese says after the election her group will push harder for a reform of the opaque system of political donations and for a national corruption commission to be established.
Palese, too, says there has been a lack of leadership, particularly on the need to prepare communities and workers for the unfolding transition away from coal to renewables.
'There is a terrifying lack of leadership – at national and state level – and it means workers are being left high and dry," she says.

Leadership lacking

Announcing its election scorecard (links to others at the bottom of this post), WWF Australia's chief executive, Dermot O'Gorman, said as the environment faced huge challenges "this generation of political leaders has not yet stepped up to reflect the concerns of the vast majority of Australians".
The Australian Conservation Foundation's chief executive, Kelly O'Shanassy, is similarly unimpressed with the political leadership. Only thanks to momentum from community groups and the tragic bleaching of the reef had the issues been pushed briefly into the limelight.
"The Coalition just didn't want to talk about it – their policies are quite weak," she says. "The ALP has much stronger clean energy transition policies, but neither leader has led the charge."
O'Shanassy believes one campaign from a coalition of environment groups, including ACF, WWF and The Wilderness Society, called Places You Love, has helped to push environmental law reform on to the ALP's policy platform.
"For a country with such a beautiful natural environment, we have such incredibly weak laws," she says.
The Coalition did make one major environmental announcement when Turnbull joining the environment minister, Greg Hunt, in Townsville to reveal a $1bn reef fund.
But campaign groups were quick to criticise the plan. Not only was it several billions short of what one group of scientists say is needed, but the announcement was just a shifting of existing cash from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation which the Coalition has been trying to shut down.
"There's no additional carbon reduction benefit from that," says Imogen Zethoven, Great Barrier Reef campaign director at the Australian Marine Conservation Society. "We did send the Coalition a series of questions on that announcement, but we didn't get any answers. It raises more questions than it answers."
She says one major win was a policy commitment from Labor to regulate pollution levels flowing into the reef. "That is not to be underestimated," she says. "That would be a major step forward."

Your vote?

So who should you vote for if you want to improve the chances of survival for the reef and Australia's unique habitats and help the country make the inevitable transition away from fossil fuels?
To help with that decision, in recent days the Climate Institute, WWF, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Australian Marine Conservation Society have all published assessments of the key parties on their environment and climate polices.
You should read them and then go and vote.