PICS: Climate activists protest outside Annual Southern African Coal Conference
Cape Town - Coal and climate activists are determined to raise their voices about the harmful effects of the coal mining industry as they protested outside The Westin hotel during the 15th Annual Southern African Coal Conference on Thursday morning.
The conference takes place until Friday and had government officials and businesses come together to share ideas about moving forward with the coal mining industry.
Community members, coal and climate change experts from various organisations are concerned about the impact that the coal mining industry is having on communities at a small scale, and but also on a larger scale, the planet.
Spokesperson for the Cape Town faction of international environmental group Extinction Rebellion, Peter Benjamin said: “We are protesting against those people who contribute towards the destruction of the land resulting in climate change. It may look like a smaller issue at the moment but in 10 years time this issue is going to be dominating.”
Benjamin said the argument between investing in renewable energy and fossil fuels is an ongoing debate within the government. There are officials still purely on the side of coal mining and fossil fuels, and it has been indicated on numerous occasions that coal mining will remain in the country.
Programme co-ordinator of climate jobs at Alternative Development and Information Centre, Thembeka Majali, said that communities situated close to coal mining power stations are strongly being affected at a health point of view and economically.
“The government is reliant on fossil fuels however it is an industry that mainly benefits a few and the poorer communities are still the ones who are impacted from it negatively,” she said.
Sisonke Environmental Justice Network spokesperson, Lucky Shabalala, who advocates for coal mine workers in KwaZulu-Natal said that when large mine companies seize land for coal then those rural people are evicted from the land.
“The rural people depend on a river for drinking water in Danhauser, KwaZulu-Natal because there is a lack of taps in the area and when the coal mine operates, the wind blows the coal dust into the water leaving it contaminated. The livestock are also affected by the pollution spread from the mining,” he said.@Sukainaish