Hundreds march against climate change in S.Africa

Activists urge South African government to reduce carbon emissions ahead of COP21 in Paris

Hundreds march against climate change in S.Africa

World Bulletin / News Desk

Hundreds of activists marched in Johannesburg on Saturday urging their government to reduce its share of carbon emissions, ahead of the UN COP21 climate conference in Paris.

“If South Africa, and all other polluting countries, don’t own up to their fair share of climate responsibility, the serious climate impacts being experienced will only intensify,” Makoma Lekalakala senior program officer with Earthlife Africa told Anadolu Agency Saturday.

She said protesters were demanding the country’s electricity supplier Eskom, to stop its ‘‘dangerous addiction’’ of using coal-fired electricity plants because they affected both the environment and human health.

“We are demanding our government to use clean, affordable and sustainable energy sources,” she added. 

South Africa depends on coal to produce nearly 90 percent of its electricity.The environmental activist further said that numerous people in Mpumalanga province, where most coal mines are located ,have fallen sick due to the excessive coal mining in the area.

According to media reports, scientists have found elevated carbon dioxide emissions, and sulphur dioxide in the air, around coal mines in Mpumalanga. Scientists also found heavy metals in the soil and acidic groundwater.

Civil society groups, community organizations and environmental activists participated in the Saturday protest, marching through the streets of Johannesburg before gathering outside the regional offices of Eskom. Some carried signs reading “Quit coal”, “Coal is a Killer” or “Coal Climate Chaos”.

Dale McKinley of advocacy group Right2Know campaign said the South African government will soon open two new coal power stations that will add more coal pollution in the air.

“We are calling on government to prioritize renewable energy, because it’s cheaper and environmentally friendly,” he told Anadolu Agency at the protest. South Africa is currently facing its worst drought in decades which has affected about 2.7 million households.

Food prices have increased in the country as a result of the drought which has affected production. The cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria also recently introduced water restrictions due to the prolonged drought.

“I am not a scientists but I think the ongoing drought could be a result of the carbon emissions,” McKinley told Anadolu Agency.

Dominique Doyle, Energy Policy Officer at Earthlife Africa said community organizations that participated in the protest sent a strong message to their government, as it enters into the 2015 climate negotiations in Paris.

“Urgent action is required to reduce carbon emissions and find a fairer, smarter and greener way to improve the well-being of African people,” she said in an earlier statement.

More than 150 nations are expected to meet in Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 in a bid to strike a deal on carbon emissions regulations meant to keep the global average temperature within two degrees Celsius of what it was at the dawn of the industrial revolution.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 29 Kasım 2015, 09:34