24 September 2020
Thousands of climate activists and supporters are expected to take part in the Global Day of Climate Action on Friday.
A year ago, an estimated 7.6 million people across the world took to the streets in one of the biggest demonstrations for climate change to date.
The movement was started with Swedish activist Greta Thunberg’s school strikes in 2018.
Activists are now demanding that stronger action be taken by individuals and governments against the effects of climate change, including Eskom moving away from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
South Africa is reportedly the largest emitter of greenhouse gas on the continent and 14th globally. While the country is working on strategies to reduce emissions, the current plans still include coal power stations until 2050.
Various groups are organising events across the country, using the hashtags #ClimateActionNow and #FightClimateInjustice.
The Climate Justice Coalition is marching in Pretoria from the Union Buildings to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy and then to the office of the Minister of Finance. The action is planned from 10am until 1pm. The organisers have asked participants to wear masks and maintain a safe social distance.
Alex Lenferna, from 350Africa.org and the Climate Justice Coalition, says the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic must be an environmentally friendly one. “Otherwise we will have lost our last window to avoid some of the worst effects of climate change and meet the Paris Climate Agreement’s [long-term temperature target to limit average temperature increase to] 1.5C,” he says.
He believes that shifting to renewable energy would be “our most job-creating, reliable, rapid, and affordable way to tackle our load-shedding crisis.”
Several protests are planned from 1pm. Activists are meeting at Littlewood Primary School in Mitchell’s Plain, the Isivivana Centre in Khayelitsha, and in front of Parliament.
Youth coordinator at the African Climate Alliance and communications assistant at Project 90 by 2030, Gabriel Claasen, says they hope to show that there is a serious need for systemic change. He is calling for a “stronger, more informed base for climate mobilisations in communities.”
Claasen says: “I live on the Cape Flats and have all my life seen the deep injustice that we as front line and under-resourced communities face… We need to call for climate action and climate justice as well as an end to the social injustices that intersect.”
In Nelson Mandela Bay, Extinction Rebellion is planning to focus on the access to clean water and sanitation. The group will meet at 9am at the Engen Rink Auto Centre and march to City Hall.
The #FridaysForFuture movement, originally started by Thunberg, is planning a public dialogue at the Durban Botanic Garden at 11am and then picketing near John Zikhali Road from noon.
In Lephalale, activists are picketing near the Medupi Power Station from 6am. Francina Nkosi from the Waterberg Women Advocacy Organisation says “we are simultaneously faced with the interconnected crises of climate change, Covid-19, unemployment, poverty, gender-based violence, and inequality.”
Nkosi says about 30 women and youth are expected on Friday and that they hope Eskom will opt for a just energy transition. “Our lives matter more than profit,” she says.