Invitation: Parliamentary Colloquium on Climate, Air Pollution, Energy and Health

On 14 Nov, in Parly, groundWork is hosting a Colloquium on Climate, Air Pollution, Energy and Health. The invitation to parliamentarians is below. *Please attend if you can!*
Dear Honourable Chairs, Members, Secretaries to the Chairs, Secretaries of the various Portfolio Committees on Health; Water and Sanitation; Energy; Economic Development; Environmental Affairs and Agriculture and Forestry and Human Settlement.
*groundWork would like to invite you to a Parliamentary Colloquium on Climate, Air Pollution, Energy and Health*
*Time: 11am to 2:30pm* *Date: 14th November 2018* *Venue: Old Assembly Chamber, Old Assembly Building*
From the 30th October to the 1st November, the World Health Organisation (WHO) gathered in Geneva with 400 country delegates from around the world for the WHO’s First Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health . There were various outcomes, but critically it was recognised that: “(e)very day around 93% of the world’s children under the age of 15 years (1.8 billion children) breathe air that is so polluted that it puts their health and development at serious risk. Tragically, many of them die: WHO estimates that in 2016, 600,000 children died from acute lower respiratory infections caused by polluted air.” Alarming by any standards.
From 2nd to 14th December, the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 24) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is being held in Poland. In preparation for this, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its landmark report titled Global Warming of 1.5oC , which finds that the risks of allowing temperature increases to reach even 1.5 degrees Celsius are dire, and that “rapid and far-reaching” transitions are needed. It points out that limiting global warming “would reduce challenging impacts on ecosystems, human health and well-being, making it easier to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals”.
During this critical time, the Department of Energy is also finalising the long-awaited Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for electricity for South Africa, which will determine our electricity choices until 2030. The IPCC report shows that coal fired power must be phased out over the next two decades to keep global warming below 1.5°C or even 2°C. In September 2017, groundWork made a presentation to the Portfolio Committees on Health, and Environmental Affairs that highlighted the health impacts of coal fired power plants in South Africa .
groundWork is bringing together health, climate, energy, pollution, and legal specialists to speak to these critical issues that will define South Africa’s energy, climate, and health trajectory over the next decades.
Key informants in the colloquium are: – Dr. Diane Gray (Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, UCT); [1] – Prof. Angela Mathee (Director – Environment & Health Research Unit, SA Medical Research Council [2] – Mr James Irlam (Public Health Association of South Africa); [3] – Ms. Robyn Hugo (Centre for Environmental Rights); [4] – Dr. DA Mashifane (Local General Practioner, Middelburg, Mpumalanga); [5] and – Dr. Bobby Peek (groundWork, Friends of the Earth, South Africa) [6]
We hope that you join us in these discussions, so that together we can work on a just future for all.
Please confirm attendance with Samara Govender ( and/or 071 913 6452
Kind regards,

Bobby Peek Director groundWork
[1] Dr. Diane Gray (MBCHB, PHD) is a paediatric pulmonologist and clinical researcher in the Department of Paediatrics, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital (RCH), University of Cape Town. Since completing her sub-specialist clinical training in 2011, Diane has been involved in clinical research with a focus on lung function in infants and children, including completing PHD research into the early determinants of lung function in African infants. This research identified a number of factors that impact early lung health in early childhood, many that are amenable to public health intervention. She also continues to work as a clinician in respiratory medicine within the Pulmonology Division at RCH. As a clinician scientist her work focuses on improving paediatric respiratory health of African children through better understanding the drivers of lung disease in early childhood and how this can be prevented.
[2] Prof. Angela Mathee is the Director of the Environment & Health Research Unit, at the South African Medical Research Council since 1998. The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) was established in 1969 with a mandate to improve the health of the country’s population, through research, development and technology transfer, so that people can enjoy a better quality of life. The SAMRC’s Environment & Health Research Unit (E&HRU) conducts population-based research on environmental risks to health – with particular emphasis on those living in poverty.
[3]James Irlam is a Senior Lecturer in the Primary Health Care Directorate at the UCT Faculty of Health Sciences and an associate of the Division of Environmental Health in the School of Public Health. He is a graduate of the MPhil programme in Epidemiology and the MSc programme in Climate Change and Development at UCT. He is a teacher, researcher and advocate for mitigating climate change and improving public health by means of healthy energy and lifestyle choices.
[4] Robyn Hugo is the Programme Head for Pollution & Climate Change at the Centre for Environmental Rights. This programme predominantly works in a collaborative project with partners groundWork, the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, the Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance (VEJA), and the Highveld Environmental Justice Network – who all support several community-based organisations – to promote environmental justice, ensure compliance with environmental laws, and strengthen civil society participation in decisions on industrial pollution, waste, and land use. Robyn holds a BA LLB from Stellenbosch University, and an LLM in Environmental Law from the University of Cape Town.
[5] Dr. DA Mashifane is a local General Practioner in Middelburg, Mpumalanga.
[6] Bobby Peek is Director of groundWork, Friends of the Earth, South Africa. He grew up on the fenceline of south Durban’s Engen oil refinery, co–founded the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, was national campaigns coordinator for the Environmental Justice Networking Forum, and in 1998 received the Goldman Environmental Prize for Africa. He was on South Africa’s first National Environmental Advisory Committee to the South African Minister of Environment. From 2008 to 2012 he was on the international executive committee of Friends of the Earth International, the world’s largest federation of grassroots organizations fighting for environmental and social justice. He serves on the International Board of the Global Greengrants Fund. He advises on various national and international environmental justice strategies. He has received an honourary PhD from the Durban University of Technology.

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