Memorandum to Pres Ramaphosa from the African Climate Alliance 20th Sept 2019
Mr President – We, the youth of South Africa, appeal to you: why aren’t you going to New York for the UN Climate Emergency Summit? Please Tata, your refusal to engage with what is coming is killing us!
Global heating has reached catastrophic proportions in 2019: highest ever summer temperatures across Europe, Antarctic ice-caps disappearing and thousands killed and displaced across Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi after a record 2 massive cyclones in one season.
South Africa is heating at twice the global average. Eskom and Sasol are amongst the biggest greenhouse gas emitters in the world. Not only are we are battling toxic air pollution on the Highveld, we have suffered wildfires in Knysna, drought in Northern Cape and floods in KZN this year. Many more of us will struggle with food and water shortages and of course the most vulnerable in our society will be most severely affected. Xenophobia, gangsterism and violence against women and children are not going to improve under conditions of climate crisis.
Mr President, you don’t need to fear that closing down mines and coal-fired power stations will result in unemployment. Renewable energy is now more cost-effective than coal. South Africa is blessed with both sun and wind – solar and wind-power could provide a more resilient electricity system and five times as many jobs in far safer and healthier conditions.
Mr President, you have a choice: Do you want to be remembered as the guy in the pocket of big business who condemned his grandchildren’s generation to suffering and death as climate refugees in resource wars? Or will you be remembered as South Africa’s greatest leader, the one who acted boldly and decisively to avert climate catastrophe, the one who had the vision to guide us through a just transition to a clean, green future?
You already saved us once: you are the man who led the CODESA talks in the 90s and prevented civil war at a time when the world thought it was inevitable. We believe you have what it takes to do the seemingly impossible.
Please Mr President, don’t condemn us to climate apartheid – as Chair of the AU, stand up to the Global North and lead the way: it is time to demand climate justice for our continent!
We respectfully request a meeting with you, Minister Mantashe and Minister Creecy to discuss our demands that the government of South Africa:
- Declares a provincial and national climate emergency
- Bans new coal-fired power stations and fossil fuel mining licences – NO more Medupi and Kusile, NO to Thabametsi and Khanyisa, NO to KZN coast gas and oil drilling
- Commits to 100% renewable energy generation by 2030 through a just transition
- Creates a mandatory climate education and adaptation curriculum for South Africa
- Prioritises the restoration of degraded landscapes and funding of ecological infrastructure
Cover photo by Ryan Fortune