SA youth take to Cape Town’s streets for urgent action on the climate crisis.

By Lameez Omarjee, News 24

Members of African Climate Alliance, Feed the Future and Mzansi Organics promoted food security as part of the events for Cape Town’s pilot climate week.

  • Youth, civil society and concerned citizens plan to march to Parliament to demand urgent action on climate change and the socio-economic crisis.
  • They demand an end to all fossil fuel electricity by 2035 and an improvement in national literacy on climate change.
  • The march is a culmination of events held in Cape Town this past week to raise awareness of climate action.

South Africa’s youth will take to Cape Town’s streets on Saturday to march for urgent action on the climate and socioeconomic crises.

The march is arranged by the African Climate Alliance – a youth-led organisation advocating for climate justice – and is a culmination of events in Cape Town’s pilot climate week which runs from 19 September to 24 September. Over 1 000 people are expected to gather at Hanover Street in the City Bowl and will march to Parliament.

Speaking during a briefing ahead of the march, themed on system change, co-founder of African Climate Alliance, Sarah Robyn Farrell, explained that the current socioeconomic system, which prioritises profit over the livelihoods of people, is also contributing to “environmental breakdowns” and growing climate catastrophes.

Gabriel Klaasen, youth and programmes coordinator of African Climate Alliance, echoed these views, explaining that crises such as income inequality, water and food insecurity and climate change are all interlinked. “We are marching for urgent action to address the climate crisis and transform our economic and social systems. Action that prioritises sustainable energy, housing, water and food access for all,” Klaasen added. Even though the march is organised by youth, all are welcome to join, said Klaasen.

The group has a memorandum of seven demands which will be handed over to representatives for the speaker of Parliament, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.

They call for an end to fossil fuel electricity production by 2035 – most of South Africa’s emissions which contribute to climate change are attributed to the country’s carbon-intensive electricity sector. The country’s Integrated Resources Plan (IRP), which unpacks the energy resources to be used up to 2030, is currently under review. The group wants the revised IRP to include no new coal or gas-fired power.

Among the other ambitious demands is for government to put a moratorium on fossil fuel exploration. Contrarily, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe and his department have encouraged the development of domestic oil and gas resources, which would support economic growth and potentially shield South Africa from global price volatility for these resources.

Mantashe and energy company Shell this week applied for leave to appeal a ruling that blocked exploration off the Wild Coast.

They also demand government proactively prevent the public sector or private sector from investing in financial instruments which have exposure to fossil fuel industries.

Parliament also has a role to play and should establish a permanent Joint Standing Committee on the Climate and Ecological Crisis. This committee would have oversight on efforts to address the interlinking social, climate and environmental crises and should meet once a quarter, they propose.

They also demand that Parliament consider, debate and adopt a Climate Justice Charter, which aims to address socioeconomic harms exacerbated by the climate crisis, like hunger.

They recognise a need for comprehensive education on the climate crisis, and call for the Department of Basic Education to adjust the national curriculum to improve existing literacy on climate change. The curriculum should include life skills for learners, on how to deal with the realities of climate change.

The march will commence at 10:30 on Hanover Street.