With environmental experts currently gathered in Poland at the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) hoping to find a way to stem the damage caused by burning fossil fuels, local environmental groups launched their own attack on Wednesday protesting against companies who wished to explore and drill for petroleum products in KwaZulu-Natal.
Hundreds of people marched along the promenade against proposed offshore oil and gas exploitation. According to the environmentalists, the need for resistance emerged from the ongoing Environmental Impact Applications put forward by Sasol and Italian oil corporation Eni, who wanted to explore and drill for petroleum products in KwaZulu-Natal’s Indian Ocean, they told Berea Mail.
Desmond D’Sa of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) said: “KZN is renowned for its warm climate and attractive beaches, however, healthy oceans are critical for maintaining this beauty by being assets to vibrant marine life and to coastal communities whose economies rely on tourism, fishing, and recreational activities. Exposing our offshore areas to petroleum exploration risks severely damaging our oceans and beaches without reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.
“If exploration commences, KZN’s coast may be subject to oil spills, seismic surveys, petroleum flaring and chemical contamination, with long-term costs for the tourism and fishing industries. Seismic testing has devastating impacts on marine life, especially whales and dolphins who have been beaching with increased frequency along KwaZulu-Natal’s east coast since 2016. The extraction will limit and restrict the 50,000 fisher folks who depend entirely on fishing. It will also disturb our different spiritual devotions exercised in the ocean by many people of faith.”
Meanwhile, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body of around 900 scientists from around the world, warned that cutting emissions couldn’t be more urgent. The environmentalists said they demanded the end of fossil fuel extraction and reliance.