Climate Change activists seek change
Water shortages and fire frequency have been highlighted as key environmental issues for 2021.
Local environmental activists and experts want more renewable energy and stronger regulations to combat climate change in South Africa this year.
Dona van Eeden, a Stellenbosch University sustainable development studies graduate, said Cape Town would continue to see trends of water shortages and fire frequency.
Climate change and development expert from UCT, Roland Hunter, said the impact of the pandemic side-tracked some of the urgent steps needed to respond to our climate crises.
“My personal hope is that the shared global experiences of responding to the Covid-19 pandemic can be applied to the other pressing crises that our planet faces,” he said.
There are promising signs that our government intends to increase the procurement of new renewable energy through the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Program (REIPPP), said Hunter.
The aim is to increase the contribution of renewable energy towards electricity supply, from 11% to 40% by 2030.
“An element of local living that may change is the way we view our food production systems,” he said.
Areas such the Philippi Horticultural Area, which supports thousands of individual farmers and provides up to 50% of the city’s fresh produce- continues to face threats from development, he said.
Van Eeden, 23, said climate models predict that our atmosphere’s temperature would increase by more than two degrees celsius by 2100.
“Not only does this harm our communities and livelihoods, but also triggers the destruction of sensitive plant and animal species,” said van Eeden.
Meanwhile, Noa Lou Brawermann, member of XR (Extinction Rebellion) Youth Cape Town, an apolitical network using non-violent direct action to persuade governments to act said, “There should be stronger regulations as to which pollutants can be approached.”
“Using natural products has to be enforced. A carbon tax, having an amount of carbon you can use in a year or month should be implemented,” she said.
“I think that having a Cape Town branch allows us to focus on the needs of climate change locally, and that means focusing on drought, for example,” she said.
African Climate Alliance Youth (ACA), a network to drive ambition climate action, co-ordinator Gabriel Klaasen, 22, said that they would like to see the beginning of a “just transition”.
“Delaying radical action on shifting and implementing this, will contribute towards hastening a climate crisis that poses a far greater threat than the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.