Cape Town - “We are living in a climate emergency” were the words that resonated from Greenmarket Square in central Cape Town on Wednesday, where numerous civil society organisations and small-scale fishing communities joined eco-justice group The Green Connection amid the vibrant African-made and inspired products for Africa Day.
At the gathering, The Green Connection launched a public awareness and information-sharing campaign to highlight the ongoing efforts to stop all offshore oil and gas projects.
Strategic lead, Liziwe McDaid, said: “The goal of the public campaign is to popularise the issues relating to these offshore projects, especially highlighting the potential impact on the ocean and on the small-scale fishers who depend on it.”
The activists, fishers, campaigners and everyday citizens called for a stop to all offshore oil and gas projects and reminded South Africans that in the climate crisis, food security was a critical part of building resilient communities, and those on the coast needed a functioning marine ecosystem to ensure future food security.
Extinction Rebellion Cape Town demonstrated how oil and gas projects continued to destroy the environment. Members dressed in black robes to symbolise the “prophets of death and destruction” which reign over oil and gas projects.
These “prophets” led a giant black snake through the brightly coloured stalls of Greenmarket Square to symbolise the East African Crude Oil Pipeline, a proposed 1 443km crude oil pipeline that would run from Uganda to Tanzania and if built would have disastrous consequences for local communities, wildlife and the planet.
Coastal communities also took to the microphone to share the struggles they faced.
Langebaan small-scale fisher Solene Smith said that too often the government made decisions that negatively impacted the ocean that they cared for and survived off, without taking their voices and knowledge into consideration.
African Climate Alliance programmes co-ordinator Mitchelle Mhaka said it took a catastrophe, as was seen in KwaZulu-Natal, for the government to acknowledge that climate change was a problem and needed more intense interventions.
McDaid said: “South Africa needs an energy plan, an integrated energy plan that defines our energy road map, and in drawing up such a road map, everyone must be given the chance to be involved.”
“Such a road map was proposed in legislation adopted by Parliament in 2008, but no president has gazetted it since then.”