Cape Town - Hundreds of climate activists from across the country gathered outside Parliament on Tuesday to demand the implementation of the Climate Justice Charter, which is being supported by 260 organisations and was put forward over a year ago to address the continued use of oil, gas and coal to power the economy and society.
The Climate Justice Charter Movement (CJCM) supports the Charter which emerged from the worst climate induced drought in the history of the country and from intense dialogues with key sectors in South African society such as youth, labour, drought affected communities, social justice, faith, the media and environmental justice.
The group of CJCM protesters handed over a declaration of their plea as well as gifts depicting the challenges faced in everyday lives regarding food, energy and water - which was going to worsen with further heating.
The declaration called attention the Charter’s ability to provide a visionary pathway to a deep just transition and “lay the basis for a climate emergency approach with a feminist, decolonial, deeply democratic and emancipatory ecological systems change”.
“There are no sensible reasons why it should not be adopted by Parliament, except for them aiding and abetting carbon criminality,” read the declaration.
CJCM said they would explore all legal avenues “to stop government’s carbon criminality and would put every effort into ensuring 2024 was a climate justice election in South Africa”.
CJCM activist and lead organiser of the protest Ferrial Adam said, “The truth is that the South African government and parliament are failing to come to terms with the seriousness of the worsening climate crisis.
“While they make big statements at an international stage such as the UNFCCC, back home they are building some of the largest coal fired power stations in the world, support the likes of Sasol - one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world - and are pushing for the Oil and Gas Bill and long term expensive Karpowerships and even nuclear.
“This duplicitous behaviour is killing our people,” said Adams.
South African Informal Traders Alliance (Saita) president Rosheda Muller said her organisation was the biggest job creator in the country because government could not give them jobs.
“We create our own jobs and our members, our people, are the people of the communities, the people who are struggling in the rural areas- these are the people that we represent and we stand 100% behind the Climate Justice Charter.
“We as Saita, in every corner of the country, in every centimetre of this country will mobilize to support the Climate Justice Charter,” said Muller.
Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs chairperson Fikile Xasa received the declaration from the protesters on behalf of the Speaker of Parliament and the Chairpersons of different portfolio committees that were invited.
After hearing the comments, concerns and the responses from the crowd, Xasa said he would ensure the formally received declaration was responded to.