Extinction Rebellion, an international movement using non-violent ways of pushing mass extinction awareness, has gathered outside the department of mineral resources and energy.
Protesters are demonstrating against the “collective failure of the global club of polluters to meet the challenge of global heating and the climate crisis,” they said in a statement on Friday morning.
They are accusing the South African government of following in the footsteps of the main perpetrators that have contributed to the planet’s ecological collapse and mass extinctions of species, due to their “unwillingness to transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy”.
The group plans to start a campaign of civil disobedience early next year, should government refuse to make a clear commitment to reaching zero carbon emissions.
“The only force that is capable of bringing about the change that we require are the people themselves, in particular, those that are the most vulnerable to what is happening now and what is to come.”
In an open letter published on Daily Maverick, which the group plans to hand over to the department on Friday, they emphasise that the climate crisis means it cannot be business-as-usual in South Africa.
Suggesting that government “tell the truth” and declare “an emergency”, they are appealing to the department to reverse its “inconsistent” policies surrounding fossil fuels and make a transition to renewable energy.
The group demand that a people-led indaba be created to oversee changes to clean energy, as they have lost faith in the state making long-term systemic changes needed.
“We need a democracy that is fit for purpose, one that brings in climate justice emergency measures, fitting to the crisis we are in.”
They have also accused government of dishonouring the clause in the South African Bill of Rights that states that everyone has a right to life, to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being, and to have the environment protected for the present and future.
Extinction Rebellion has three key demands from government:
- Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency and work with the media and other institutions to communicate the urgent need for change.
- Government must act immediately to prevent the crisis by starting to move away from a carbon-based economy and must prioritise adapting the industry to meet future needs, while also preventing biodiversity loss and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2025.
- Government must create and empower its people by encouraging a people’s indaba process, and to have the indaba oversee decisions to address climate and ecological injustice.
(Compiled by Nica Schreuder.)